Another perfect beach read for sisters, estranged or not.

THE SUNSHINE SISTERS

Faded B-movie star Ronni Sunshine has spent a lifetime alienating her three daughters. Now that she’s on her deathbed, she calls them home. But will they come?

The sisters have drifted away not only from their mother, but also from each other. Nell, the oldest, has always avoided her mother’s melodramatic, unpredictable rages. Now 33, her journey has included choosing teenage single-motherhood, and she’s raised her son, River, on a farm where she has found not only meaningful work as the manager, but also a compassionate mother-figure in Theodora, the owner. Meredith, the middle daughter, who bore the brunt of Ronni’s wrath, has learned to play the role of people-pleaser. Having fled to London and become an accountant, she still struggles with feelings of inadequacy, which she self-medicates with emotional eating and dysfunctional romantic relationships. The spoiled youngest, Lizzy, turned into a wild child, experimenting with boys, drugs, and alcohol, but has recently found success as a pop-up supper-club restaurateur. That success, however, may come at a price given her instant attraction to her married business partner. As Green (Falling, 2016, etc.) shifts back and forth among the sisters’ and Ronni’s perspectives, she sifts through the emotional wreckage of women inflicting wounds on themselves and each other. She convincingly depicts a frayed family with a keen eye for the details that snap the threads of sisterhood: Lizzy unleashes a verbal lashing when Nell denies her request to use her farm for a dinner, Meredith recoils from Nell’s plea for help with her financial report, Lizzy (and Ronni) humiliate Meredith over her boring fiance. Once back home, the sisters begin to forge new bonds by sharing their different memories of Ronni, who by this time has squirreled away a lethal collection of OxyContin pills to end her pain. Have they come home too late?

Another perfect beach read for sisters, estranged or not.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-58331-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

THE NIGHTINGALE

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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