A people lover’s book. Characters grow and change; family and friends support each other. Predictable, but comfortably so,...

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON LODGE

This sequel to Landvik’s debut novel (Patty-Jane’s House of Curl, 1996) reads easily as a stand-alone. A light read—not deep, but definitely wide—the story follows Ione Rolvaag’s family (and friends) for two decades.

The Rolvaag family, from matriarch Ione on down to her great-grandchildren, lives, laughs, and loves at Blue Moon Lodge. In a nutshell, Ione gets a second chance at the love of a lifetime. Her daughter-in-law, Patty Jane, can’t marry the man she loves because her legal husband, Thor, has returned, brain damaged, after a 15-year absence. Nora, Patty Jane’s (and Thor’s) daughter, has a one-night stand that leaves her more than surprised (three guesses), but in this basically optimistic tale, she finds love, too. And her kids, and those of her half brother, turn out well, so happiness overrides the sad events that are spattered throughout. Nora’s newly acquired Blue Moon Lodge in rural Minnesota is the focal point for the action, a cozy place where friends and family gather. The novel’s lengthy time frame slows forward momentum. There’s no definitive plotline, just four generations living, loving, learning, and struggling through the occasional hard times over a span of 20 years. It’s a story about family—but chock full of other characters, too, and much dialogue. There is a charm and warmth to this hopeful tale in which love is the glue that holds people together. There is no apparent main character; each shares the spotlight in a short scene before the curtain drops and another’s stage is set. Landvik’s love for her characters is evident; she introduces multiple peripheral people, who serve as color in the backdrop of a close-knit family, and she has clearly thought deeply about the people she puts on the page. She even provides a detailed epilogue to show where life takes them after the book is closed.

A people lover’s book. Characters grow and change; family and friends support each other. Predictable, but comfortably so, this refreshingly simple family tale provides a comfy diversion from the everyday world.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5179-0269-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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