Superficial connections devoid of life-giving subtext.


In eight loosely constructed stories, Gornick (Tinderbox, 2013, etc.), a psychoanalyst, portrays the small worlds of privileged Americans.

Grouped in sections by date, ranging from 1961 to 2009, these stories are linked by relationships: of blood, romance, or chance acquaintance. Feminist issues loom large. In “Instructions to Participant,” Yale freshman Lizzy, pregnant at 18, is confused (as readers may be) by her mother’s conflicting accounts of why she “stopped loving.” In the rambling title story, Louisa, Lizzy’s cousin, meets William, nicknamed Bear, at Princeton. This Midwesterner-turned-surfer-turned-banker will forever overshadow Louisa’s love life, but their attachment, which compromises all their other relationships, is never convincingly rendered. “Lion Eats Cheetah Eats Weasel Eats Mouse” features Louisa’s affair (the cause of her first separation from Bear) with wheeler-dealer Andrew, an NYU law student obsessed with Guatemala. In “Parachute,” Andrew’s second wife, Marnie, endures morning sickness and existential nausea. (Fourteen years after similarly shocking Louisa, Andrew horrifies Marnie with his callous account of the lynching of a Guatemalan snitch.) One of the more powerful stories, “Priest Pond,” illustrates the limited vistas of characters not born to privilege: Bear’s sister Charlotte’s life is blunted by her husband’s decision to choose hockey over college. Brianna, Lizzy’s now-teenage daughter, and her adoptive parents exist in a parallel universe to the other characters (“Misto”) but contribute little to the theme. In several of the stories, a suicide, suspected suicide, or other melodramatic event substitutes for an earned epiphany. Likewise, heavy-handed symbolism too often takes the place of genuine resolution, as when singing along to “Mrs. Robinson” prompts a mother (Louisa’s best friend) to forgive her daughter for stabbing her (“Conchita”) or when the dinosaurs in a Manhattan museum signal redemption to Charlotte.

Superficial connections devoid of life-giving subtext.

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-19208-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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