Ahmed swings for the fences in this luminously intelligent, culturally magisterial debut.

RADIANT FUGITIVES

A Muslim Indian family, splintered by forces from within and without, attempts to reconnect over one fateful week in San Francisco.

"Oh, Grandmother, you’re not asleep yet. The voices from the kitchen are no lullaby. Your daughters are fighting, and you blame yourself. There must have been something you could have done, before the rifts widened to such chasms." Ahmed's complex, ambitious debut is narrated by a fetus who—like his literary cousin in Ian McEwan's Nutshell—has narrative art to spare. Having just emerged from his mother's lifeless body in the delivery room, he unfolds a tragedy of classic proportions, fluently incorporating the poetry of Wordsworth, Keats, and the Quran and including masterful descriptions of the skies of San Francisco, of Muslim ritual, of LGBTQ+ protests, of Indian cooking and theater, of the volunteer organizations of then–District Attorney Kamala Harris and presidential candidates Howard Dean and Barack Obama. The story unfolds in a confusing manner, with some intent to mislead, but is essentially this: Seema, estranged from her family in India and uprooted to the U.S. when she came out as queer decades ago, briefly married Bill, a Black man. After their rancorous breakup, one instance of farewell sex led to the conception of Ishraaq (the name his mother chooses after learning he's a boy). As Ishraaq's due date draws near, Seema's mother, Nafeesa, comes from Chennai, though she is dying of cancer. Younger sister Tahera, a devout Muslim in hijab and jilbab, a mother of two and an OB/GYN, also arrives from her home in Irvine, Texas—though she is poisonously jealous of her sister and disgusted by her gay friends. Every difficulty and heartbreak takes its place alongside many others in this painful story shaped by both Islamophobia and homophobia.

Ahmed swings for the fences in this luminously intelligent, culturally magisterial debut.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64009-404-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

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THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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