Hauntingly beautiful pieces that will leave deep impressions.

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TRACE

In this debut poetry collection, Figg kindles broken, dying embers into a roaring memorial for the voiceless.

“God save the devils, afflicted / and tumored. Speech stalled / in their cursed throats,” writes Figg in her deeply insightful collection’s first poem, “The Measure of Things.” From there, readers are led into a world of remnants; in one poem, for instance, the ashes of insane asylum residents are kept in long-forgotten canisters. Figg is adept at combining contrasting images; for example, in “Stitching a World,” the natural world intertwines with the highway, but it’s unexpectedly revealed how nature’s beauty—represented by kudzu blocking the sunlight—is deceptive. Throughout, the poems’ speakers share the pain of the forgotten and the damned. In “Interview With Sister,” a mentally ill woman interviews her sister, or perhaps she interviews herself; each line begins with the word “Sister,” as if the two are one. Figg gently scatters themes of loss, loneliness, and rejection throughout her poems, and these sharp shards sparkle. Take, for example, “Refuse,” a poem with an unsettling fireplace image in which “the birch / collapses into the fire’s belly.” That same poem also replaces birdsong with the shocking noise of birds hitting windows: “He mistakes / the sounds of their necks breaking / for visitors knocking.” There’s a fear of insignificance here, too; in “The Trace of Nothing,” a woman steps away from a wall and simply vanishes. Figg’s poetic timing is spot-on, and her lines, though often dark, remain powerfully musical. In “Once Was,” the sound of words melts into a bluesy moan of a woman “on the ground, the asphalt hot and soft / from the sun and slowly caving in to cover her edges and set her firm.” But there’s light here, as well, as in an image of goddesses who chew laurel leaves for prophecy, and Figg’s contemplative voice consistently casts a strong, soft glow.

Hauntingly beautiful pieces that will leave deep impressions.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89823-385-8

Page Count: 104

Publisher: New Rivers Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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