AMITY & SORROW

Simple in style but complex in tone, this book raises troubling questions about the power of doomladen cults, and their...

The eponymous title refers to the daughters of Amaranth, the first wife (out of 50) of Zachariah, Messianic leader of a Doomsday cult.

The novel opens with Amaranth on the lam with her two daughters, trying desperately to put some distance between herself and Zachariah, who’s recently tried to burn down the compound where they all lived. Exhausted after four days of travel, Amaranth crashes the car in rural Oklahoma, while at the same time Sorrow experiences a miscarriage. It eventually becomes clear that Zachariah sees himself as God and is also trying to father God, and Sorrow—also known as the Oracle—is the holy vessel to accomplish this task. Sorrow wants nothing more than to “go home” to Zachariah (she makes weird threats to Amity such as “The devil will fork your tongue and fry you” ) but Amaranth has recently become so spooked by Zachariah’s growing megalomania that she feels she no longer has a home. The car crash occurrs near an almost-abandoned gas station and farm owned by Bradley, whose wife has left him. Although Amaranth is slow to share information about her past, Bradley picks up some negative vibes and at first wants the three of them off his property. Through flashbacks we get glimpses into the lives Amaranth, Sorrow and Amity have led with Zachariah, shielded from the world and subject to his apocalyptic paranoia. Zachariah’s 39th wife is a “daughter of Waco” and so knows something about government persecution of religious cults, and Amaranth had suspicions that Zachariah might have been leading the women and children to a Jim Jones–style Kool-Aid annihilation. Bradley and Amaranth ultimately—perhaps inevitably—become lovers and begin to build a new family, all the while fearing Zachariah will catch up with them.

Simple in style but complex in tone, this book raises troubling questions about the power of doomladen cults, and their leaders and followers.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22088-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

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 6, 2014

THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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