A 31-year-old British Nigerian Oxford graduate is driven bonkers by the quest to find a man and a job on a very tight schedule.

Her younger sister is already married and pregnant, her best friend is engaged, her other best friend is becoming more of a frenemy, and her mother and aunties are "praying over her love life as if [she's] terminally ill." Poor Yinka is losing it. Instead of the promotion she expected at work, she's made redundant but has bragged so much about the move up that she's too embarrassed to tell anyone the truth. When pressured by her posse to set a "bridesmaid goal," she vows to get a date for the wedding (and, secretly, to get a job, before people find out the truth). Debut novelist Blackburn enlivens her account of Yinka's frantic quest by interspersing Google search histories, text conversations, and a series of flip charts with neon Post-it messages and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) plotting out OPERATION WEDDING DATE: MY PLAN TO WIN ALEX AND HAVE A DATE FOR RACHEL’S WEDDING IN JULY!!! "Be more in touch with Nigerian culture"; "Learn a few Yoruba words"; "Increase my bum size by eating more pounded yam and doing 50 squats daily" are among the tasks she sets for herself—but since she knows this whole thing makes her look crazy, she keeps her "operation" a secret, too. Meanwhile, disappointments keep piling up as well as anxieties due to colorism, texturism, and Yinka's commitment to remain a virgin until her wedding day. After the Alex plan crashes and burns and she blows off the nerdy guy at church who clearly cares for her, only to see him pair up with a young hottie, things go seriously south in the mental health department. A liberal salting of patois—"Duh yuh waah your ier dun?" "Abeg. Give her a discount, ehn?"—and the deployment of comic Nigerian types (her mother, the aunties, the other members of her church) firmly root this novel in a community depicted with warmth and humor.

A sassy, spirited story.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-59-329900-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


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

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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.


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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