Stern’s brittle comedy of highfalutin intellectual theories evolves into a feeling portrait of a gifted man coming face to...


Passion (or the lack of) among the academic elite is the subject of Stern’s first novel, narrated by a philosophy professor who studies the nature of knowledge while clueless about how to lead his life.

Love and academic politics at an unnamed Rhode Island college make for an uneasy marriage between recently tenured Ivan and his younger wife, Prue. Ivan, a self-proclaimed “fusty scholar” with no apparent friends and little sense of adventure or humor (except with Prue’s 7-year-old niece, May, toward whom he is lovingly protective) adores Prue, an intellectual live wire popular with peers and students. He wonders, as will readers, what about him other than sex attracts Prue—probably not his binge-eating. Ivan’s scholarship, which circles around the nature of belief and knowledge, has always been eclipsed by biolinguist Prue’s scientific research into the nature of language. She has published 20 articles to his four and has received funding to start a center for ornithology at the college. Ivan has already sensed a tension growing between them before she announces that she has not yet decided whether to accept or reject an exciting six-month research offer from the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Worse, she doesn’t tell him this while they’re alone but rather in front of her encouraging friends. Ivan seems like a stick in the mud when he complains that her absence might have a negative effect on her upcoming tenure review. Then she gives a controversial lecture questioning the ethics of her own study of animal language. Horrified by the possible damage she’s done to her career, Ivan is again unsupportive. In contrast, Prue’s visiting father, Frank, leaps to her defense in disastrous fashion. Bipolar Frank’s mental health is spiraling down because Ivan has not made Frank take his meds as Prue requested. Meanwhile, just as genuine professional success appears within reach, Ivan’s misreading of the world around him causes him to mislead Prue in increasingly foolish and serious ways.

Stern’s brittle comedy of highfalutin intellectual theories evolves into a feeling portrait of a gifted man coming face to face with his limitations.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55743-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.


When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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