A novel with thematic depth and complexity sometimes undercut by flat characters.


The lives of three very different Black women intertwine around the enigmatic chief executive of a Swedish marketing company.

Neither Muna Saheed, Brittany-Rae Johnson, nor Kemi Adeyemi ever envisioned themselves living in Sweden’s capital—a city, Kemi muses, so magnetic that “if Stockholm was a man and she’d met him in a nightclub, she would have propelled herself right away to ask him to dance.” And though each hails from different backgrounds—Kemi is a young Nigerian American advertising executive quickly rising up the professional ranks; Brittany’s a disillusioned Jamaican American model-turned–flight attendant; and Muna’s a traumatized Somali refugee—they share a vital trait: Each, in Swedish society, is marked as a Black woman and foreign transplant before anything else. Each, too, is linked to Johan “Jonny” von Lundin, the CEO of von Lundin Marketing and seemingly a manifestation of Sweden’s status quo—racially, culturally, and economically. In three interlocking narratives that eventually draw the women into closer orbit, each fights to carve a path within insular Swedish society. Kemi, lured to von Lundin Marketing for a position as a director of global diversity, must continually prove herself to her colleagues amid entrenched stereotypes of Black and American women. As her budding relationship with Jonny grows serious, Brittany grapples with the isolating, classist milieu he lives within. Meanwhile, Muna, who cleans the von Lundin offices, tries to stitch together a makeshift family to replace the one she’s lost. As the women contend with Swedish language, norms, and expectations, it becomes clear that as long as the interests of Black women remain subservient to White feminism, each must construct her own life template and determine whether its personal sacrifices are worthwhile. Åkerström paints an admirably rich portrait of a particular culture—its nuances, norms, and idiosyncrasies—raising important questions of prejudice, racial bias, agency, and belonging. Her characters, however, can feel predictable, and her writing, especially in romance scenes, often resorts to clichés.

A novel with thematic depth and complexity sometimes undercut by flat characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72824-038-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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