Caring for a spouse with Alzheimers is an ever more common heartbreak, illuminated by this tender portrait of a marriage.

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS

A superstar literature professor is struck down in his prime in the cruelest possible way.

“So you’re sleeping with your professor,” Camille said. “Weren’t you the one lecturing about the casting couch?” OK, it’s a #MeToo novel, you’re thinking, set at Columbia in the 1970s, about a relationship between a 22-year-old Ph.D. student named Prudence Steiner and her only-six-years-older Shakespeare professor, Spence Robin, a dashing, auburn-haired campus idol who rides her around the Upper West Side on his moped. But Henkin’s fourth novel turns out to be a different sort of story entirely—tragedy rather than outrage. Pru drops out, gets married, gets pregnant while Spence gets two Guggenheims, a Mellon, and a MacArthur. But talent and good luck are ultimately no match for early-onset Alzheimer’s. Pru is 51 and Spence 57 and their only child, Sarah, has just left for medical school when discomfiting things begin to happen. Spence is cold all the time, misreads a party invitation, and, most critically, can’t seem to make any headway on his book project, a new, annotated Shakespeare—though it would provide income they desperately need to support his disabled sister and his son, Arlo, from his brief first marriage. Henkin specializes in melancholy stories about complicated families, and this one is a real heartbreaker. His portrait of Pru is nuanced and sensitive, following her into one of the darkest places a spouse can go and hitting the notes just right. The other point-of-view character is Arlo, a dyslexic genius raised haphazardly by his bohemian mom and his underinvolved dad—his trajectory is interesting but distant from the emotional core of the story. Some of the most powerful moments in the book are sudden insights into Spence’s experience—more of these would have been welcome.

Caring for a spouse with Alzheimers is an ever more common heartbreak, illuminated by this tender portrait of a marriage.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4835-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more