LOSING JULIA

Former Time journalist Hull’s first novel paints a generic portrait of young love and trench warfare, framed by a bracingly unsentimental depiction of old age. The story moves forward simultaneously on three fronts, all chronicled in the diary of American veteran Patrick Delaney. At age 81, he recalls his experiences as a soldier during WWI, when his best friend, Daniel, died horribly after an assault on the German lines; and his brief, enchanted affair with Daniel’s lover, Julia, whom he met in France in 1928 while attending the dedication of a memorial monument. The battle scenes are adequate, but contemporary writers who venture into this arena must suffer comparison to Pat Barker’s breathtaking trilogy (The Ghost Road, 1995, etc.), and Hull falls short in both imaginative empathy and literary skill. Patrick’s account of his liaison with Julia, conducted as his unloved wife and cherished three-year-old son await him in a Paris hotel, fails to convince us that she’s as fabulous as he thinks. However—and this is a big however—the diary’s 1980 portions, chronicling Patrick’s life in a nursing home, have all the specificity and emotional weight the historical segments lack. Compare the bite of —The older I get, the more out of place I feel, like a weekend guest still loitering around the cottage on Sunday night because he’s got no place else to go— with the blandness of —How perfect she looked . . . with the kind of face you instinctively want to touch and kiss.— The lovelorn noodlings of Patrick and Julia aren—t nearly as interesting as the blunt, bitter depiction of physical decay and psychic regret that plague nearly every inhabitant of the Great Oaks Home for Assisted Living. A death scene there would have been a lot more realistic—and challenging—than the phonily romantic one Hull provides. Pretty stale stuff, but those perfectly pitched nursing-home scenes linger in the memory.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-33375-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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