Linguistically enthralling, this is a novel that will surely make you orbit into the ineffable.

O FALLEN ANGEL

A second edition of Zambreno’s (Green Girl, 2014, etc.) 2010 debut novel takes its readers on a linguistic ride through an American family’s breaking point.

With a new introduction from Lidia Yuknavitch, Zambreno’s novel offers an unconventional kind of narrative. Structured in three distinct voices, the novel is composed and punctuated by its moments of narrative and linguistic crisis. Maggie, the depressive, self-harming, renegade daughter, permeates the book with a language of fear and rebellion (“Maggie wants nothing more than to be slapped around a little, she wants to be punished, she wants to be punished for her bad, bad, soul”). On the other hand, Mommy, the unstable and unfair mother, embodies a word bank of expectation and disappointment (“What does a psychologist do Mommy wonders? Except make trouble. Except blame everything on the Mommy, blame everything on the Mommy and Daddy, that’s what a psychologist does, and who needs a psychologist when you have Jesus?”). Zambreno has also strategically created the character of Malachi, who remains mysterious and existential throughout the book (“He takes out a match, on which is traced one of his stars, symbols. He sets fire onto his paper city”). To try and pin a storyline to this novel wouldn’t do it justice. Rather, it exposes the everyday life of most contemporary American families, except that day-to-day activities have been replaced with the semiotic. The novel does provide a reader with enough psychosocial reference points for one to identify with each character’s psychoses. For example, Maggie constantly questions her sexuality, and Mommy systematically wants to control everything about her and her daughter’s lives. These neuroses are not foreign to Americans living according to a national standard that was forced upon them by history and culture. Zambreno is a master at peeling off the denial and rubbing the reality of this time in our faces.

Linguistically enthralling, this is a novel that will surely make you orbit into the ineffable.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-257268-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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