Wrought with tenderness, wit, and a wonderful sense of absurdity, Villalobos’ latest novel is a triumph.


In an unnamed city, a man walks his dog—also, it’s possible that aliens have landed.

At the center of Villalobos’ wry, luminous, and witty new novel is Gastón, a man getting on in years who makes a living (more or less) from his vegetable garden and whose dog, Kitten (that’s right), is rapidly deteriorating—terminal cancer—and needs to be put down. Meanwhile, Gastón’s closest friend, Max, is deeply in debt and must close his restaurant; he’s so depressed, though, that he spends his days playing games on his phone rather than clearing out his business. Then there’s Max’s son, Pol, whom Gastón helped raise. Pol, a scientist, is either dangerously close to a psychotic break or has troubling news to share about the interplanetary aliens who colonized Earth. In previous novels, Villalobos established himself as a spinner of wild, absurd, occasionally experimental tales rooted—somehow—by deadpan narrators who seem to look their readers directly and steadily in the eye while expounding outlandishly. This novel, though it takes a somewhat gentler approach, is no exception. Its third-person narrator uses a calm and quiet tone and, at the same time that it’s unraveling all its various threads, also takes the trouble to make itself explicit. “There are lots of other characters in this story,” the narrator says, “but we’re going to accompany Gastón at all times, as if we were floating just behind him and had access to his feelings….” Then, what seems to be a story about one thing—or another thing—Villalobos slyly inverts. This is a book about xenophobia and racism and the conflicted tug between isolation and community. It makes a fine—and deliciously strange—addition to Villalobos’ already grand personal canon.

Wrought with tenderness, wit, and a wonderful sense of absurdity, Villalobos’ latest novel is a triumph.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-91350-536-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: And Other Stories

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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