A gritty, expansive coming-of-age novel filled with sex and violence that manages to be tender, even wryly hopeful.


Winner of the Prix Goncourt in France, Mathieu's first novel to be translated into English follows three teenagers and their families through four summers in an economically depressed valley far removed from Paris.

It's 1992, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the song of the moment, and 14-year-old Anthony Casati is obsessed with the thought of topless girls. He and his cousin steal a canoe and paddle to the fabled nude beach across the local lake. His chance encounter there has far-reaching consequences for him, a wealthy girl named Stéphanie Chaussoy, and an immigrant boy named Hacine Bouali. Told in four sections, each unfolding over another summer, the novel details the torpor and hopelessness of a deindustrialized valley where children deal hashish and shoot their BB guns at the rusting carcasses of blast furnaces. Mathieu captures the vulnerability and awkwardness of adolescence with painful acuity as the teenagers struggle to find their ways in the world. But his interest extends further, to their families and the place itself; characters and setting are inextricable, as the book's best writing reveals. "In midafternoon, a diffuse numbness took hold of the projects....The towers themselves seemed ready to collapse, swaying in the waves of heat. Every so often, the howl of a tricked-out motorbike would slash through the silence....The boys felt sluggish and hateful." In the bar that Anthony's alcoholic father frequents: "People drank in silence until 5 o'clock, and more energetically afterward. Depending on their temperament, they then got sick, funny, or mean." The conflict between Anthony and Hacine has its roots in the valley's poverty and racism. In one of several vicious attacks, a punch "carried ancient pains and frustrations. It was a fist heavy with misery and missed chances, a ton of misspent living." Mathieu's sympathy for his characters is cleareyed and generous, and the final section—showing the entire valley caught up in World Cup soccer fever as the French team competes for a place in the finals—is surprisingly moving.

A gritty, expansive coming-of-age novel filled with sex and violence that manages to be tender, even wryly hopeful.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-89274-677-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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


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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