A book that will try a reader’s patience but may also reward it.

THE LAST CHAIRLIFT

Familiar Irving themes and autobiographical points mark this sprawling family tale.

Narrator Adam Brewster is a lucky bastard. His short and unwed mother, Ray, is gay but marries even shorter Elliot, an English teacher and wrestler at Adam’s New Hampshire school, who's fine with Ray living part of the year elsewhere with her female partner, Molly, and will eventually transition genders. At the wedding, Adam hears the epic orgasms experienced by Em, the partner of his cousin Nora. They perform, in some of the novel’s best moments, at a comedy club as Two Dykes, One Who Talks, with Nora interpreting Em’s pantomime. Adam, seen from childhood to old age, is lucky to be raised and surrounded by women who are smart, loving, and supportive. Still, he spends most of the book trying to find out more about his father, someone Ray met in 1941 when she was a teenager at a hotel in Aspen, Colorado. The likely candidate is an actor whose noir films and off-screen life become a major sidebar. The lost paternity that haunts Adam is reflected in actual ghosts that appear haphazardly throughout the novel, sparking a few comic moments but mainly serving to personify his preoccupation with family history. Like Irving, Adam writes three novels before gaining broad fame with his fourth. Also like Irving, he writes for the movies, and twice the narrative switches to lengthy stretches of screenplay format, bringing a welcome briskness to the generally slow pace. Irving’s writing can be painfully plain, short on imagery or elegance and long, oh so long, on repetition. But his imagination and empathy often work to charm a reader when the prose falls short. Here the consistent pleasure is an extended family whose distinctive voices deliver thoughtful messages of tolerance, understanding, and affection for those who are different.

A book that will try a reader’s patience but may also reward it.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8927-2

Page Count: 912

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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