EARLY MORNING RISER

A heartwarming novel with a small-town vibe that sparkles like wine sipped with friends under backyard fairy lights.

The author of Single, Carefree, Mellow (2015) and Standard Deviation (2017) brings us new characters to fall in love with in this novel about love, family, and community.

It’s easy to adore the characters Heiny conjures in her novels and short stories. They tend to be quirky and smart, caring and passionate. Jane, the protagonist of Heiny’s gentle, funny new novel, is no exception. When we first meet her, the year is 2002, and she's 26. She has just moved to small-town Boyne City, Michigan, from Grand Rapids by way of Battle Creek, to teach second grade at the local elementary school. Almost immediately—in the first month she's in town and the first sentence of the novel—she meets and falls for Duncan, a handsome, divorced woodworker in his early 40s who moonlights as a locksmith (they meet when she locks herself out of her new house), looks to Jane “like the Brawny paper towel man,” and, she later learns, not entirely to her surprise, has slept with pretty much every woman in the area. Both Jane, ever hopeful, and Duncan, ever appreciative, are pure charm (as are the book’s secondary characters: their Northern Michigan neighbors, friends, and family members). She is a creative teacher and all-around blithe spirit who enthusiastically procures all her clothes and household items at the local thrift store. (“Some of her thrift-store outfits were more successful than others,” we’re told.) He’s the kind of generous, easygoing guy who still shovels out the snowy driveway of his ex-wife, Aggie, as well as that of Jane; Jane’s best friend, Freida; and, eventually, Jane’s flinty mother. Duncan’s sole employee is a sweet young man named Jimmy who was initially “described to Jane by more than one person as ‘slow learning.’ ” After an accident for which Jane feels culpable, Jimmy becomes Jane’s responsibility, too. Eventually, Jimmy will bring Jane and Duncan together in a new way. Told episodically in chapters titled by year and covering a span of 17 years, Heiny’s book finds beauty and humor in connection and community, family and friendship, and the way love can develop and deepen over time.

A heartwarming novel with a small-town vibe that sparkles like wine sipped with friends under backyard fairy lights.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65934-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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