A thrilling, endlessly stimulating work that demands to be read and reread.

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THE CANDY HOUSE

Egan revisits some characters from A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010) and their children to continue her exploration of what fiction can be and do in the 21st century.

As Manhattan Beach (2017) showed, Egan is perfectly capable of writing a satisfying traditional novel, but she really dazzles when she turns her formidable gifts to examining the changes to society and individuals wrought by the internet and social media. One of those instruments of change is Bix, an NYU classmate of Sasha in Goon Squad but here a vastly rich social media magnate who, in 2016, makes the next leap in the “Self-Surveillance Era” by creating, first, Own Your Unconscious, which allows people to externalize their consciousness on a cube, and then Collective Consciousness, which offers the option of “uploading all or part of your externalized memory to an online ‘collective,’ ” thereby gaining access to “the anonymous thoughts and memories of everyone, living or dead, who had done the same.” Egan explores the impact of this unnervingly plausible innovation with her habitual panache, ranging from her characters’ pre-internet youths to the 2030s. While there are “eluders” like Bix’s son Gregory, who refuse to share their private thoughts with strangers, many are seduced by the convenience and power of this collective tool. The most stylistically audacious chapter shows us the scarily logical next step; it reproduces the instructions of a “weevil” implanted in the brain of Lulu, daughter of morally compromised Goon Squad publicist Dolly, now a spy married to “a visionary in the realm of national security.” As she did in in Goon Squad’s PowerPoint chapter, Egan doles out information in small bites that accumulate to demonstrate the novel’s time-honored strengths: richly complicated characters and compelling narratives. The final chapter rolls back to 1991 to movingly affirm the limits of floods of undigested information and the ability of fiction, only fiction, to “roam with absolute freedom through the human collective.”

A thrilling, endlessly stimulating work that demands to be read and reread.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1676-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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