A solid debut that will appeal to readers who enjoy quirky family stories with a focus on character over action.

DAVA SHASTRI'S LAST DAY

An extremely wealthy woman with a terminal illness leaks news of her own death so she can see how she’s mourned in the press before the sickness actually takes her life.

The year is 2044, and Dava Shastri has summoned her four adult children, as well as their romantic partners and children, to join her for the Christmas holiday on her private island off the coast of eastern Long Island. After everyone arrives and greets the family matriarch, it’s a shock to hear the media announcing that their hostess is already dead. When they confront Dava, they learn she’s been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer and she’s hired a doctor to euthanize her, which is legal in this futuristic New York. After years of pouring her sweat and tears into her charitable foundation supporting the arts, Dava wants to leave this world on her own terms and in a way that will allow her to see at least some of the beautiful tributes she expects about her life. The news of her death does spur greater media attention than ever before, but instead of accolades, Dava is dismayed to read gossip revealing truths she had long ago buried. Meanwhile, a strong winter storm hits New York, trapping the family on the island, where they have no choice but to confront the issues Dava’s predicament has raised. Told from a variety of perspectives, the story is reminiscent of Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You in that circumstances force adult children to spend several days together working through years of resentment and regret. The strength of the story lies in its depiction of a strong-willed matriarch who has doggedly pursued success while doing things her own way. Unfortunately, Ramisetti’s inclusion of so many side characters and multiple convoluted backstories makes it difficult to invest in any one plotline. The 2044 time frame also adds to the confusion, as the author fails to ground readers in this unknown era through sufficient details or descriptive explanations. Even so, Ramisetti draws nuanced characters who are introspective and entertaining.

A solid debut that will appeal to readers who enjoy quirky family stories with a focus on character over action.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-538-70386-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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