An engaging superhero story with deep themes.

Gravity Breaker

When a biracial single father discovers he can control gravity, he must decide how far he’ll go to protect his family in this novel.

When we first meet Isaac Williams, he’s a young boy, running and suddenly leaving the Earth behind for a moment—until he comes crashing down. Later—after his departure from Mississippi, the birth of his daughter, Tallah, and the death of his wife—Isaac lives a very down-to-earth life in the San Francisco/Oakland area, making a living picking up laundry. But when a police officer hassles Isaac, the cop’s SUV mysteriously gets crushed; though Isaac isn’t sure how, he realizes that he destroyed the vehicle—and he enjoys the feeling of not being the helpless one finally. This could be the origin of a superhero, and Isaac learns to control his power—though he uses it to make his life easier. (Which happens a fair amount of time in superhero origin stories.) For instance, he lightens his load while carrying it but makes it heavier when weighing it for payment. But when Tallah’s school troubles escalate, Isaac finds himself using his abilities to protect her from the police, which sets the two on the run and soon pits Isaac against the authorities in a search for his daughter. Miller (The Two Levels, 2015, etc.) writes an engaging superhero adventure tale revolving around the serious issue of police officers and race. (As Isaac notes to one cop, the police probably wouldn’t have been called if a white student had been disruptive.) Isaac is an easy character to sympathize with as a protective father who deals with a series of setbacks. Yet Miller makes certain not to draw him in too perfect terms: some of the more psychologically interesting moments revolve around Isaac’s motivations—is he protecting Tallah or just lashing out at others? There are also some nice turns of phrase—a tossed piece of concrete hangs in the air “like a poor man’s moon.” The ending suffers some loss of momentum as Miller sets up the sequel.

An engaging superhero story with deep themes.

Pub Date: June 29, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 247

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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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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