An adolescent faces his family of liars with a spirit reminiscent of Holden Caulfield.

HERE LIES A FATHER

Fifteen-year-old Ian Daly is a curious combination of hard-bitten adolescent and walking blind spot, a naïve old soul who knows too much and not nearly enough.

Ian makes a compelling narrator, the heart and soul of Cassidy’s debut novel. In a sense, he’s so self-aware that he comes to realize he isn’t: “Thinking back, there had been so many signs, clues that for a less gullible person would’ve shown the man behind the curtain pulling the strings, but I either failed to notice or wasn’t able to.” In Ian’s defense, he comes from a family of adept string-pullers. As the novel begins, he accompanies his older sister to his father’s funeral, where they’re stunned to learn about the old man’s first wife. And there are more shocks to come. Staying at his aunt’s house for the weekend, Ian takes us tripping through one adeptly arranged flashback after another, using a dry sense of humor to make sense of a deceit-laden life. Was his dad really trying to find a killer job, or was he drinking away his life with women not his wives? Did Ian’s mom really not know what was going on, or was she lying to her son all along? Cassidy keeps such questions bubbling beneath the surface of the novel and Ian’s consciousness; as the boy slowly figures things out, we feel bilked for him. The novel’s vivid upstate New York universe of blue-collar neighborhoods gives Ian’s surroundings a heavy coat of realism, as do the insecurities, sexual and otherwise, suffered by Ian and his few friends. Ian is a worthy literary cousin of Holden Caulfield, another kid with little tolerance for fakes and phonies and too much hard-won skepticism for his age. The grown-ups have let Ian down; now he must create himself.

An adolescent faces his family of liars with a spirit reminiscent of Holden Caulfield.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61775-757-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Kaylie Jones/Akashic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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