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

AMITY & SORROW

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. 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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

REGRETTING YOU

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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