A return to form, merging Shriver’s better instincts as both novelist and social critic.

SHOULD WE STAY OR SHOULD WE GO

Is it a good idea to kill yourself before you become elderly and burdensome? Shriver considers the possibilities.

After more than a decade of often sour, scolding fiction, Shriver has written her best novel since The Post-Birthday World (2007), in no small part because it revisits that book’s alternate-timeline conceit. In 1991, Kay, an interior designer, and Cyril, a physician with Britain's National Health Service, are dispirited by the death of Kay’s father from dementia. So they agree that on Kay’s 80th birthday, in 2020, they’ll take fatal doses of Seconal. In successive chapters, Shriver imagines a dozen ways this plan plays out, or doesn’t. Kay has second thoughts and is struck dead by a delivery van anyhow; or Cyril does and meets a similarly dim fate. Elsewhere, they decide to play out their dotage in a spendy retirement home, or their children discover the plan and have the couple banished to a dismal institution. More wildly, Shriver imagines scenarios in which a drug for immortality is discovered or the couple enter a cryogenic deep-freeze and reemerge to a transformed human race or suffer in a dystopian England overrun by migrants. Shriver is still Shriver, using her characters to grumble about Brexit, Covid, monetary policy, and political correctness. (“Please tell me you’re not listening to that Shriver woman,” Kay groans to Cyril. “She’s a hysteric. And so annoyingly smug, as if she wants civilization to collapse.”) But a novel with multiple tendrils means she doesn’t get locked into one point of view, and, as in The Post-Birthday World, the multiple perspectives produce a tender and complex portrait of the central couple. Mortality, Shriver finds, needn’t be morbid; one of her imagined futures is downright pleasant and testifies to humanity’s adaptability. It reads a bit awkwardly, but that'll happen when a writer tries something new.

A return to form, merging Shriver’s better instincts as both novelist and social critic.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-309424-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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