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

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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

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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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