Entertaining and affecting stories with a deft lightness of touch.

A DOWN HOME MEAL FOR THESE DIFFICULT TIMES

In her debut story collection, Addis Ababa–born Hadero addresses Ethiopian Americans' struggles for acceptance, the painful ties between present and past, and the elusive meaning of home.

Raised in the United States and now based in San Francisco, Hadero sets a tone of dizzying displacement from the start in "The Suitcase," in which 20-year-old American Saba visits her birth city of Addis Ababa for the first time. Far from a romantic family reunion, the trip is full of cultural land mines including the one she nearly steps on when relatives and family friends bicker over which of their gifts Saba will bring back to the U.S. In “Mekonnen aka Mack aka Huey Freakin’ Newton,” set in 1989 in a Brooklyn wracked by racial conflict, sixth grader Mekonnen learns the meaning of pride—and shame—as a member of a group of activist Black kids. And in "Sinkholes," an Ethiopian-born high schooler, the only Black student in his class in rural Florida, is put to an impossible test when his teacher asks students to write racial epithets on the blackboard, thinking this "exercise" is empowering. A full range of stylistic approaches is on display in these stories, from the satirical spin on the odd disappearance of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012 to the magical realism of mysterious "floating houses." Hadero's writing derives great power from her nuanced references to Ethiopia's anguished history, including the atrocities of the Derg military junta. As one character says, survival is about "letting that past move through you and move with you and move you so that it's you deciding for yourself what you're worth."

Entertaining and affecting stories with a deft lightness of touch.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63206-118-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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

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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