A meditative tale about rediscovering one’s true self that will appeal to readers reaching midlife.


In this novel, a recent empty nester struggles with whether to leave her husband as she searches for a more fulfilling life.

Shortly after Jennifer’s two children reach young adulthood and move out of the house, she realizes she’s not interested in staying trapped in a mediocre relationship with her husband, Mark. Just as she prepares to tell Mark that they should separate, Jenn’s father shows up, announcing that her mother has died. No longer the time to seek a divorce, Jenn retreats into herself. When she stumbles on old diaries from her youth, she remembers her first love, Thomas “Tripp” Porter. As she reminisces about their great romance, she searches for him on social media and discovers that he messaged her seven years earlier through Facebook. She responds to the message and receives a reply almost instantly. In the decades since they’ve seen each other, Tripp has also married and built a life for himself. Even so, the pair begin communicating via text and phone, and Jenn feels seen for the first time in years. She even works up the nerve to speak to Mark about her discontent, and they begin counseling. As Jenn tries to find her true self, she experiments with moving out of the house and enjoying the freedom of sexual exploration with other partners. She’s on a mission to discover what will finally satisfy her. Told entirely in the first person from Jenn’s perspective, Pursell’s book reads more like a memoir than a novel, with a great deal of introspection and reflection on past events (“Memories are an amazing thing. They allow us to hold on to a part of our past in powerful ways”). Similarly, limited details about the setting throughout the story lead the narration to feel more like diary entries. The author tackles difficult issues of how adults should approach the later portions of their lives and how to balance second chances against the idea of starting fresh, taking a deep dive into those questions with insight and grace. As the story progresses, so too does the explicit sexual content, which unfortunately begins to feel clinical and awkward instead of steamy. Even so, the narrator’s journey toward her own truth will likely speak to many 50-somethings considering their own life paths.

A meditative tale about rediscovering one’s true self that will appeal to readers reaching midlife.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2023

ISBN: 9781639887958

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2023

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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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