A brief but enjoyable historical novel.

HONEYSUCKLE HOLIDAY

A richly detailed debut novel of a Southern girl’s 1960s childhood.

Twelve-year-old Lucy Moore tells the story of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, after her mother and two sisters relocate from Germantown. She tells tales of warmth and nostalgia—walking to the drug store for sodas, saving up coins to purchase dolls, frying an egg on the pavement to test the summer heat—but also reveals the era’s atmosphere of racism. The white Lucy isn’t merely an innocent observer, either; she antagonizes Lila, the family’s African-American housekeeper, by taunting her with hurtful, racial chants.But although Lucy can be cruel, her older sister Caroline and their newly divorced mother, Maggie, treat Lila with respect. Lucy’s father left the family on Christmas Day 1965, and when he later reappears at the house unexpectedly, on the run from the police, Lucy and Caroline are dismayed. Jacobs creates suspense by shifting back to the days right after he left the family, when generous and wealthy relatives Aunt Dodo and Uncle Herman welcomed Maggie and the children for a visit to their St. Louis home. Later, in 1966, Lucy announces that she would like to be a nun, and Maggie arranges a tour of the Sisters of Sorrows Convent, where, Lucy admits, “I began to feel true sorrow for them, rather than the awe I had felt earlier.” Throughout, Lucy struggles with both her father’s absence and the complexities of racism, which turn out to be far more connected than she realizes. Jacobs is a talented, descriptive writer who provides particularly lush descriptions of food: “The cole slaw was smooth and rich and creamy, like my red velvet skirt that I wore last Christmas, and the baked beans were served in little plastic cups, a perfect crusted top waiting to be punched with the tines of our forks.” Lucy and Caroline are well-developed characters, but many of the story’s doting and affectionate adults are too similar. The exception is Lucy’s father, whose criminal transgression is finally revealed toward the novel’s end.

A brief but enjoyable historical novel.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 95

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: March 29, 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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