Olafsson’s emotionally chilly tale raises interesting questions about the capacity and limits of science and about how hard...


In Olafsson’s fifth novel (Restoration, 2012, etc.), set in a rarified world of high-achieving intellectuals and artists, a neuroscientist attempts to unravel mysteries in his personal history as he recovers from a tragedy.

Magnus grew up in England but now lives in Manhattan and commutes to a hospital in Cold Harbor, Connecticut, where he works on a project studying human consciousness in seemingly comatose patients. As the novel opens, he describes being put into an artificial state of physical paralysis for two hours just to experience it. Unable to move or communicate, he hears the sea outside his open window for the first time since his lover, Malena, visited him at the hospital the previous fall, a moment when he “should have known from her voice that something was wrong.” Malena, an Argentinean who taught modern dance at Julliard, has since died under cloudy circumstances that Magnus spends the rest of the novel trying to fathom. In elliptical snatches he recalls their intense affair, which he repeatedly claims was close to idyllic. While still mourning Malena, Magnus is thrust back into interaction with his parents, Vincent and Margaret, whom he reluctantly agrees to visit at their home in Hertfordshire for his mother’s 70th birthday. Both Vincent and Margaret have always believed that emotionally fragile Margaret is a musical genius whose virtuosity on the piano has been cruelly ignored. Vincent comes across as a pathetic charlatan who pours cheap bubbly into expensive champagne bottles. Magnus has always felt that Margaret, who showed him little maternal affection when he was a child, blamed him for her lack of success. When Margaret becomes something of a media sensation after Vincent releases her new recordings, Magnus begins to questions his perspective on his childhood. Meanwhile he begins to work with a new patient, a woman who appears to be comatose but may understand more than she lets on.

Olafsson’s emotionally chilly tale raises interesting questions about the capacity and limits of science and about how hard it is to know another person, but for all its braininess the novel never develops a beating heart.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-267748-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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