A timely, ambitious, and uneven effort from an excellent contemporary writer.

DOXOLOGY

The author of Nicotine (2016) and Mislaid (2015) takes readers from CBGB to Washington, D.C.

In 1986, when life at home in the suburbs becomes too stifling, Pam gets on a bus and heads for New York. She's one-half of a truly terrible band when she meets Joe. Her new friend waits tables at a diner and plays bass. Daniel is as obsessed with obscure music as Pam and Joe, but he's more interested in producing than playing. The threesome remains an odd but fully functional unit even after Daniel and Pam start having sex and fall in love, even after Pam has a baby, even after Joe becomes an indie darling. There is no shortage of fiction chronicling young people finding themselves through the punk scene on the Lower East Side, but Zink’s version of this coming-of-age tale is distinctive because her superpower as an author is crafting weirdos and misfits without being excessively charmed by her creations. Pam and Daniel are both flawed and capable of recognizing their flaws. Joe is guileless and incapable of self-analysis, which makes him both intensely lovable and totally eager to play the archetypal rock star. The bonds among this chosen family are beginning to strain when 9/11 happens. After this turning point, the narrative focus begins to shift to Pam and Daniel’s daughter and widen to take in more of the political landscape. Flora’s passion for the environment leads her to a position with Jill Stein’s campaign. There’s something refreshing about Zink’s willingness to name names. When she writes about the last presidential election, she doesn’t create a character who looks a lot like Donald Trump; she writes about Donald Trump. At the same time, it’s an open question how much people who are bombarded by news about Donald Trump all day, every day, want to see his name in a novel. How many people still angry and despondent over 2016 want to relive it through the eyes of a Green Party staffer? More critically, fiction set behind the scenes in Washington doesn’t feel all that compelling when everyone in the real Washington—from politicians to speechwriters to low-level staffers—has an Instagram account.

A timely, ambitious, and uneven effort from an excellent contemporary writer.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-287778-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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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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