ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW

A masterful exploration of all kinds of love—romance, family, and friendship—that will make even a cynic cry.

Secrets are revealed and old wounds are healed as a family attempts to deal with a medical emergency.

Barb Frost knew her marriage wasn’t perfect. She and John had been married for 50 years, but she was unhappy and thinking about leaving, keeping herself busy as first selectman of their small Connecticut town. But then John has a stroke. Barb and John’s daughters rush to the hospital to see him—responsible architect and mom Juliet has always been Barb’s favorite while freedom-loving artist Sadie was her father’s girl. Things are bad enough, but then Barb gets the shock of her life when she goes through John’s phone—and finds out he’s been having an affair. Barb tries to keep the secret from her daughters, knowing it would upset them, but the girls have struggles of their own. Juliet is dealing with secret panic attacks and feels like she can’t handle being a perfect wife, mom, and career woman. Sadie, who moves back home from New York City to help care for her dad, now has to confront Noah Pelletier, her high school sweetheart and the man she’s never been able to forget. He wanted to marry her and stay in their idyllic small town, but she wanted to explore the art world in New York—but now, she’s not so sure that was the right decision. Higgins handles difficult topics with aplomb, mining even the darkest subjects (infidelity, infertility, mortality) with a sense of humor. She resists painting her characters with broad strokes, allowing readers to see the humanity in each person. Sadie and Noah’s love story is angst-filled enough to warrant its own steamy romance novel, but the most touching relationships are the ones Barb has with her daughters and her best friend, Caro, who is Barb’s constant companion as she deals with the fallout of John’s stroke. As Barb puts it, love doesn’t “have to be romantic to encircle you in its arms.”

A masterful exploration of all kinds of love—romance, family, and friendship—that will make even a cynic cry.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-451-48945-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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