A risky strategy pays off for a smart author whose work both amuses and hits home.

THE UNCOUPLING

Not previously known for whimsy, Wolitzer (The Ten-Year Nap, 2008, etc.) uses a magical premise to launch her sharp-eyed assessment of sexual desire in its permutations across generations and genders.

A high-school production of Lysistrata casts a “spell” that causes every woman in the town of Stellar Plains, N.J., to lose interest in sex. That includes teenaged Willa Lang, who has barely had time to enjoy her first real romance, as well as her mother Dory, whose sudden indifference after years of enthusiastic marital intimacies pains and puzzles husband Robby. Dory and Robby are English teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, where new drama teacher Fran Heller is rehearsing Aristophanes’ centuries-old comedy about women withholding sex to stop war—which inspires the play’s star, Marissa Clayborn, to stage her own “sex strike” to call attention to the conflict in Afghanistan. The spell isn’t the best fit for a writer of Wolitzer’s comic gifts, and at first it seems like a long way to go to get to the novel’s best scene, in which five female teachers ruefully remember the thrill of youthful physical love and its slow devolution into routine or obligation. The wincing recognition prompted by their comments is matched by the author’s compassionate portraits of mostly decent, loving men unnerved by a sea change they can’t comprehend or cope with. Hardest hit is Fran’s son Eli, so distressed by Willa’s rejection that he heads for his father’s home in Michigan; Fran and husband Lowell decided long ago that the way to keep passion fresh was to live apart. The performance of Lysistrata, with Willa subbing for sex-striking Marissa, provokes a general healing that skirts perilously close to contrivance and sticky sentiment, but Wolitzer makes it work, thanks to sharp characterizations and acute observations on everything from the digital generation gap to the accommodations made in a long marriage.

A risky strategy pays off for a smart author whose work both amuses and hits home.

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59448-788-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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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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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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