With wry humor, always on point, Kenney guides us through the maze of work, family, love (elusive) and friendship (a...

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

The dilemma of the storyteller powerless to shape his own story gets a beautiful new spin in this first novel about an adman facing a family crisis.

Welcome to the shoot. It’s a TV commercial for Snugglies, the world’s biggest diaper brand. The producer’s just learned that Gwyneth (yes! Paltrow!) is leaving a day early, upending the schedule, and they’ve been using the wrong diapers (wasted film, wasted dollars). Those hiccups and baby puke aside, really, everything’s fine. The narrator of this hilarious opening is protagonist Finbar Dolan, 39-year-old senior copywriter at a top-tier New York agency. (Kenney himself is a veteran copywriter.) Fin is Boston Irish, the youngest of four siblings. Their father was an abusive cop; he left them when Fin was 12. Their mother committed suicide. The children went their separate ways. Fin found an escape in advertising; he enjoyed writing the false narratives that commercials demand. He tried to write his own narrative, asking a sweet-natured woman to marry him, but his heart wasn’t in it, and he broke off the engagement eight months ago. Now, his oldest brother, Eddie, is calling to say their father, unseen for 25 years, is in the hospital, a heart attack. Reluctantly, Fin goes to the Cape, and we temporarily leave the crazy roller coaster of the ad world for Fin’s family. The Dolans are frozen in time, as haunted as an O’Neill family. A late revelation (Kenney peels the onion with care) shows why Fin is the most traumatized of the four. But this is not a bleak novel. Kenney is marvelous on workplace camaraderie. Fin’s two best friends are co-workers. One of them he’s in love with, but the dummy only realizes this when it’s almost too late.

With wry humor, always on point, Kenney guides us through the maze of work, family, love (elusive) and friendship (a lifesaver). This is an outstanding debut.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7554-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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