An imaginatively woven collection of tales with the occasional overembellishment.

MOTHER'S DAY AND OTHER STORIES

A volume of interconnected short stories centers on Mother’s Day.

Six tales are offered in this promising debut. The opening piece, plainly titled “Mother’s Day Alice’s Story,” introduces Alice Miller, a “lonely middle-aged artist.” It is the first Mother’s Day since her mom died. Sitting in a cafe, she sadly sends a text message, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom,” and then dismisses it as pathetic. The message is received by Jamal, a security officer who has been assigned Alice’s mother’s old number. When Alice is involved in an accident, events take an unexpected turn. The next story adopts a similar format with Neal Amato, an assistant manager at a New Jersey restaurant, also sending a text to his dead mother, which is read by Liz, who works on the metro desk at the New York Times. In “Mike’s Weekend,” Mike Bloom plans a perfect birthday for his wife. “Mingo Fishtrap 2005” focuses on siblings going to see a band to let off steam; “Jamal’s Story” examines the character’s life after his discharge from the Army; and “Mom’s” features teenage friends drinking illicitly. Schwartz thoughtfully addresses real life dilemmas that other writers may overlook, such as the question of deleting a parent as a cellphone contact after the loved one’s death: “There at the top of her favorites list was the name ‘Mom.’ She had not had the will to delete the contact. Would anyone?” His use of a question is particularly effective here, provoking uncomfortable reflections from readers. It is also compelling to learn how each of the tales is interlinked—which the author reveals incrementally. Schwartz’s failing is that he does not trust readers’ intuitions. The author has a habit of telegraphing what his characters have learned from their journeys. For example, with regard to Jamal: “He would be educated regarding the human condition and help him see the world as it really is.” An epilogue that ties the various characters even tighter together is also unnecessary and makes for an excessively neat conclusion. The first two stories in the book are by far the most impactful, but this remains a thought-provoking and elegantly conceived work that will leave readers wanting more.

An imaginatively woven collection of tales with the occasional overembellishment.

Pub Date: March 21, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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