THE GRETCHEN QUESTION

A thoughtful, and thought-provoking, meditation on love, loss, and legacy.

A woman must decide whether to reveal her most intimate secrets before she takes them to the grave.

Roberta Chase wakes up one morning and takes inventory of what she has to do that day: go to a work meeting, put away her best friend’s trash cans, and meet with her therapist. But from the beginning, there is an undercurrent of anxiety to every moment of Roberta’s day that suggests these activities, and this day, may not be as mundane as they seem. Told from Roberta's perspective and relying heavily on flashbacks, the novel reveals a great deal about what has brought Roberta to this point—and what may push her to take action, to make a decision she has been avoiding for most of her life. These flashbacks introduce us to the people in her world, especially her best friend, Grettie, and her estranged son, Will. And with each fragment of story, we are faced with a singular rule of life: Every choice we make has consequences. As Roberta proceeds through this day, heading toward a significant face-to-face confrontation, there are hints that she may not be presenting even us, the readers, with the full truth. And then the ending of the book casts doubt on Roberta's honesty, or her grip on reality, in a big way. As a reader, when faced with a possibly unreliable narrator, we wonder: How much can we trust anything they have told us, any piece of their story, if we can’t trust the “reality” of their own ending? But, in the case of Treadway’s novel, this unreliability also speaks to deeper layers of the novel. Roberta is caught in the trap of her own “Gretchen Question” (an allusion to Faust explained within the novel), but there are also larger questions posed by the novel to the reader: How do you qualify and find value in your life when you are nearing the end of it? What do you owe those you leave behind? And what do you owe to yourself?

A thoughtful, and thought-provoking, meditation on love, loss, and legacy.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-883285-89-0

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Delphinium

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

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

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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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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