As one of the characters puts it, “Art is a humanizer,” and Farah’s insistence on isolating the humanity in even the most...


A Somali husband and wife living in Norway are pitched into chaos, acrimony, and upheaval after their son embraces radical Islam and dies as a suicide bomber.

As in Farah’s last novel, Hiding in Plain Sight (2014), an act of violence sets in motion a chain of events disrupting a family’s stable life. It is the spring of 2009, and Mugdi, a former Somali diplomat now living in Oslo with his wife, Gacalo, has found out that their estranged son, Dhaqaneh, who fled to their homeland as a jihadi, has blown himself up at the international airport there. Gacalo, upon recovering from her grief, reminds her husband of the promise he made: that they would welcome into their home their widowed daughter-in-law, Waliya, and her two young children from a previous marriage. Mugdi, more than his wife, is bracing for what could be an unsettling culture clash, and his apprehensions grow when he finds Waliya to be sullen, withdrawn, and monastic in adhering to her Islamic faith, demanding that her son, Naciim, and daughter, Saafi, rigidly follow her religious tenets. But both children are attracted by the freedoms their new homeland offers, especially Naciim, who almost from his arrival in Norway yearns to earn enough money to buy a lottery ticket. He also chafes at the many strict rules imposed by his mother, including her fierce opposition to his associating with non-Muslim school friends and their families. The anti-immigrant bigotry of Norwegian citizens looms over this family’s painful transition, exploding at one point with Anders Behring Breivik's 2011 mass slaughter of more than 70 people, including teens attending a multicultural youth camp. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the anti-Western intolerance of Waliya and some of her fellow refugees, which reaches a tipping point with Naciim after he is brutally whipped by an imam as “punishment” for “disrespect.” Between these two violent extremes, Mugdi’s besieged-but-steadfast equanimity, as well as the author’s, provides relatively safe haven from the prevailing tension and strife.

As one of the characters puts it, “Art is a humanizer,” and Farah’s insistence on isolating the humanity in even the most difficult characters is a beacon of hope against fear and loathing.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1423-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.


When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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