A compassionate and complex debut, assuredly encompassing post–Iraq War fiction and old-fashioned Southern gothic.


Memories of a 1964 murder in Mississippi are forced back to the surface, reopening old wounds over race and class.

Lindsey’s ambitious debut novel—an admirable bid to compete with William Faulkner at his own game—concerns two forms of PTSD. Colleen, a white Iraq War vet, has returned home to the small town of Pitchlynn (“the poorest slice of the poorest state in the nation”) and is struggling toward normalcy. After a period of drinking and drugging laid her low, she’s started a tenuous new life with her husband, Derby, with whom she’s pregnant with twins. (Not that it keeps her from sneaking the occasional cigarette.) The other form of PTSD involves all of Pitchlynn: Derby’s father, Hare, is being retried for the murder of Gabe, a black man who stoked resentment among the white locals for owning land outright on a sharecropper farm. Derby has disowned Hare, but his half brother, Sonny, is sure Hare is innocent, though his efforts to defend dad’s honor end when his Cessna crashes, sending him to the ICU. Amid the anxiety over the retrial, another battle is brewing over the mansion once owned by the family that may have commissioned Hare to lynch Gabe; a massive magnolia tree on the property, and the abuses it receives over the course of the story, serves as a symbol for this complex interplay of blood and memory. Perhaps too complex: Some characters are underdrawn, as the ties among Hare’s family, friends, and enemies acquire ever thickening knots. (An issue in Faulkner’s fiction too, of course.) But the novel has some sturdy support beams in its central characters, especially Colleen, whose journey from soldier to almost–drug casualty to beauty queen to conflicted new mom is bracing at every turn.

A compassionate and complex debut, assuredly encompassing post–Iraq War fiction and old-fashioned Southern gothic.

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-24952-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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