Medwed’s signature wit does not overcome the vapid, overly sanguine plot.


Mothers-in-law are the villains in the newest comedy from Massachusetts resident Medwed (How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life, 2006, etc.).

As the novel opens, narrator Maisie is trying to decide what to do with a container of frozen breast milk that has been left in her freezer. The milk belongs to ex-boyfriend lawyer Jack’s pro bono client Darlene, whose ex-mother-in-law is suing for custody of Darlene’s 15-month-old son. When Jack asks Maisie to hire Darlene as an assistant at her company, Factotum Inc., how can she refuse? After all, Maisie’s own marriage to Rex, heir to a frozen-chicken business, failed largely because Rex could not stand up to his overbearing mother, who has always been “Mrs. Pollock” to Maisie. Now Mrs. Pollock is trying to horn in on Maisie’s 16-year-old son Tommy. Maisie herself isn’t too crazy about Tommy’s new girlfriend September, especially when the kids announce that since September’s mother—a true no-good mom—has kicked her out, she’s moving in with Tommy and Maisie. Then Mrs. Pollock finds a baggie of mysterious white powder while searching Tommy’s backpack. At the hospital where Maisie takes the bag (the powder turns out to be gumdrop residue), she meets social worker Gabe. Gabe is a mama’s boy too, but luckily for Maisie, his mother is dead. Soon Maisie does some parenting of her own: She demands that September stay in school. September agrees. In fact, she embraces it, explaining that all she has ever wanted is a mother to give her advice. Meanwhile, Darlene is proving an excellent worker. At the custody hearing Maisie attends with Darlene to offer moral support, Darlene and her mother-in-law spar only briefly before finding common ground in their love for baby Anthony. The ease of resolution is as difficult to believe as Maisie’s attraction to bland Gabe.

Medwed’s signature wit does not overcome the vapid, overly sanguine plot.

Pub Date: April 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-083121-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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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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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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