The Hills make amiable companions, but after awhile charm alone is not enough to sustain interest in a narrative of small...


A bucolic if bittersweet summer-long family reunion takes place nine years after a similar reunion that marked Clark’s first novel in her trilogy about the Hills family of Towne, Mass (The Hills At Home, 2003).

Matriarchal Aunt Lily, 75, is running a thriving fruit and vegetable stand business. She has invited her niece Ginger, languishing with cancer, to stay in her comfy big house for the summer along with Ginger’s daughter Betsy and six-year-old granddaughter Sally. Sally quickly makes friends with Cam, daughter of Cambodian refugees who run a local Italian restaurant. Much of the novel follows the children’s play, which is remarkable for its 1950s-like innocence and its precocity. Ginger’s brother Alden (abandoned by his wife in A Way From Home, 2005) lives down the road. Shortly before July 4th, his three sons, two of them immensely successful techy entrepreneurs traveling in their own Winnebago, also arrive to spend the summer. So does his daughter Julie, who lives in England. She announces that she is engaged to a British geologist and wants to have the wedding at Lily’s house in early September. Preparations begin with much to-do although Julie’s vagueness about the absent groom leads to half-serious speculation among her brothers and their girlfriends that perhaps the wedding is a sham. Clark richly, albeit romantically, captures the minutia of small town life and the complicated dynamics of family. The Hills suffer minor—very minor—altercations and misunderstandings. They sell vegetables and have wonderful, leisurely meals. They read Trollope and C.S. Lewis. With help from Sally and Cam, Julie finds the perfect wedding dress. Real sorrow exists here—Ginger clearly is slipping toward death—and all the characters display prickles and pettiness at times, but good-heartedness and New England virtues prevail. In this idealized contemporary world, even the twentysomethings’ worst expletive is “flip.”

The Hills make amiable companions, but after awhile charm alone is not enough to sustain interest in a narrative of small moments lacking forward momentum.

Pub Date: June 10, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-375-42329-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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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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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


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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