Watson’s powerful characterizations frame large and connected themes: family loyalty, the conflicting capacities of love,...

AS GOOD AS GONE

Bill Sidey wants someone he knows well to watch his kids while his wife has surgery, and so he looks up a rank old cowboy, Calvin Sidey, who happens to be the father who virtually abandoned him when he was a boy.

Done with school, Calvin signed on as a ranch hand instead of joining the family real estate business in Gladstone, Montana. There, Sidey was "a name that connoted power and influence." Calvin later fought in the trenches of World War I. Then he came home with a French bride and took to the family’s business. After his wife died during a vacation, Calvin went first to the bottle and then back to the cowboy life. Son Bill and daughter Jeanette, not yet adults, were left behind, seeing Calvin rarely. Now in the 1960s, Bill runs the family business, but with his wife, Marjorie, facing serious surgery in far-off Missoula, there’s no one to watch over 17-year-old Ann and her younger brother, Will. Motivation here, as with Calvin’s earlier abandonment, seems amorphous and must be intuited by the reader, but Watson (Let Him Go, 2013, etc.) deepens the story with secondary characters and spare, clear, Hemingway-esque prose. Notable is the Sideys' neighbor, retired teacher Beverly Lodge, who falls in love with Calvin. Then there's Bill's wife, Marjorie. She had a wild teen romance with a cowboy, perhaps the root of her distrust of free-spirited Calvin. Finally, there's Lonnie Black Pipe, Bill’s promising classmate–turned–scarred barroom brawler. Character conflict draws blood when Calvin’s Old West code compels him to intervene when preteen Will becomes entangled with a group of rowdy boys and Ann’s stalked by a violent Gladstone newcomer. The latter confrontation, with Calvin’s "capacity for ferocity," deserves a Clint Eastwood performance.

Watson’s powerful characterizations frame large and connected themes: family loyalty, the conflicting capacities of love, and the tenuous connections between humans.

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-571-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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

Did you like this book?

more