A nuanced, pragmatic look at the long-married state.

CONRAD & ELEANOR

Who contributes what to an initially happy, later failing marriage, asks British novelist Rogers (The Testament of Jessie Lamb, 2012, etc.), and can this marriage be saved?

In the beginning, Conrad and Eleanor Evanson seemed to have worked out the perfect relationship—"soon everyone would wake up and realize what they were missing, that it was possible to have everything, everything at once without anyone making any kind of sacrifice at all, and without exploiting anybody." That was when they were young, after Con persuaded El not to have an abortion but to marry him instead, and they found a way to be equal parents with successful careers as scientists, too. But now, decades later, after four children, affairs, divergences, and compromises, the state of the marriage is far from triumphant. And then, suddenly, Con, away in Germany for a conference, disappears. Rogers’ coolly analytical novel is not a thriller (although there’s one threatening character). Instead, the reader follows Con’s flight to Bologna and begins to understand the reasons for it, while also observing El and her children’s various responses to Con’s inexplicable absence. Rogers’ interest is in the collusive equilibrium of marriage—the power balance, the secrets, betrayals, and shifts—but she also uses the couple’s different careers in science, particularly Con's research into immunosuppressants and transplant surgery, which involves live-animal experiments, to consider larger dilemmas of conscience and conduct. Heavily reliant on flashbacks and soul-searching and featuring a rather chilly cast of characters, the novel is more reflective than dynamic. Its strengths are the author’s intelligence, her avoidance of sentimentality, and the honest scrutiny she brings to bear on how intimate adult relationships age and settle.

A nuanced, pragmatic look at the long-married state.

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242327-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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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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