Classic elements of Southern comedy—evil twins, people dropping dead, a faith healer, a river-rafting trip—surround a...

THE BOOK OF POLLY

This chain-smoking, margarita-swilling, varmint-shooting 68-year-old with secrets in her past is nothing like the other moms in town—and her 10-year-old daughter is terrified of losing her.

Willow Havens was conceived “in something close to a bona fide miracle, when [Polly Havens] and her soon-to-be-late husband of thirty-seven years consummated their love for the last time.” Three days after the funeral, Polly, in her late 50s at that point, learned she was pregnant. Advised by her doctor to terminate the pregnancy, she advised him to drop dead. Five months later, Willow was born, and Polly raises her the same way she raised her first two, long since grown and gone: “Folksy southern wisdom and distinctly custom-made punishments.” But Willow is worried. “What tormented me most, even more than [her]secrets, were her cigarettes.” Polly works as a checker at Walgreens, but her real calling is her flower and vegetable garden, “which encompassed most of our front and back yards” and is the source of epic feuds with squirrels and other "varmints" ranging from beetles, stinkbugs, and squirrels to the neighbors’ pets and the neighbors themselves. Hepinstall’s (Blue Asylum, 2012, etc.) lively story follows the pair into Willow’s teen years, when her best friend, Dalton, becomes a boyfriend and she starts to spend time with girls who have very different lives: mothers with Fendi bags and Pilates classes and crews of Mexican workers cleaning their mansions. Willow’s brother Shel comes home from Mexico, where he’s been nursing his wounds since his wife dumped him. When Willow suggests he try internet dating, Polly wonders what he’ll put in his profile. “Drunk, hates women, no job, lives with mother?” When Polly comes down with a case of the Bear, which is the family’s word for cancer, Willow’s worst fears take shape.

Classic elements of Southern comedy—evil twins, people dropping dead, a faith healer, a river-rafting trip—surround a lovable pair of central characters.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-56209-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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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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