A valuable addition to fiction about the tangled aftereffects of Vietnam on soldiers in the field.

THE REASON YOU'RE ALIVE

A veteran tries to come to terms with the traumatic experiences he had a generation earlier in Vietnam.

At the core of the novel is the voice of David Granger, a combination of Archie Bunker and Marlow of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. When the novel opens, Granger is 68, and he’s still haunted by his experiences in Vietnam. There, he’d witnessed darkness and violence on an unimaginable scale and was complicit in that violence. His postwar life included “some crazy time in a military loony bin in Kansas,” and every day he still dresses top to toe in camouflage and carries a sidearm in an ankle holster. His wife now dead, Granger contemptuously patronizes his son, Hank, an art dealer. (His wife, an artist, had named their son Henri Rousseau Granger, but David can’t stomach the effete name.) David is casual and defensive about his prejudices, and he both recognizes and denies these prejudices in equal measure. But the narrator is not wholly unsympathetic—he had obviously deeply loved his wife, and he dotes on his 7-year-old granddaughter, Ella. After a terrible car crash that leads to the discovery of a brain tumor David attributes to his long-ago exposure to Agent Orange, he decides to “right a wrong” he committed during the war. He stole a knife from Clayton Fire Bear, a Native American who collected scalps as part of his own traumatic war experience. With the help of a buddy of his from his Vietnam days, Granger goes on a quest to find the elusive Fire Bear. The final reunion with Fire Bear, now a lawyer, is far more surprising than what Granger had expected or imagined.

A valuable addition to fiction about the tangled aftereffects of Vietnam on soldiers in the field.

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-242430-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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