An engaging but condensed fictional account of Germans in Eastern Europe.

A GERMAN IN A FOREIGN LAND

A generational family novel tells the story of one line of German settlers in Hungary over two centuries.

People know about the Germans who went west to settle in the Americas, but as Heck reminds readers in this tale, some of them actually went east. After the Banat region of Hungary comes under the control of the Austrian Empire, Empress Maria Theresa decides to sow the lands with German Catholics. Stefan and Sophie Fritz from the Black Forest answer the call for colonists, though it means they have to disguise their Lutheran faith. Stefan believes that the promise of good land abroad beats the guarantee of poverty, despite the loss of home. “They say you are putting down new roots,” writes Stefan as he leaves Germany in 1763. “But do the roots ever take hold, and are you nourished by the new growth? Or are they weeds, growing but producing nothing?” The Fritzes toil beside the other colonists, allowing their son Johann to become a skilled violinist who associates with the likes of Haydn and Beethoven. Other descendants of Stefan and Sophie participate in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and both world wars. The fate of the family is ultimately tied to the destiny of the German community of Eastern Europe. In this series opener, Heck writes in a detailed prose that reveals what must have been a great deal of research: “Because women in the Banat were used to hard work in the fields, they were strong and mostly healthy. Some women went into labor in the fields, then cleaned up the best they could, wrapped the babies to their bodies, breastfed them, and went back to work that day or the next.” The format is epistolary, and because of this (and its compressed time frame—almost 200 years in just over 200 pages), there is a rushed, overly expositional quality to both the dialogue and the narration. As a result, the story is not quite as immersive as it might have been. That said, the book is noteworthy for its dramatization of a vanished chapter in German and European history.

An engaging but condensed fictional account of Germans in Eastern Europe.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79606-643-2

Page Count: 230

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

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.

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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