An engrossing and informative postwar tale with an abundance of intriguing characters.

HARD OF HEALING

From the Ingrid's Wars series , Vol. 2

This second volume of a trilogy continues the saga of a fictional aristocrat as she confronts the chaotic aftermath of World War II.

It is October 1944; the Germans have been pushed out of France; and the Nazi-backed Vichy government has fallen. World War II has ended here in Duchamp, along the Swiss border. But the wounds are still open and festering. Ingrid deVochard Fellner and Dieter Van der Kreuzier are living together in her home, the place where she sexually “entertained” Nazi officers while she hid a constant stream of Jewish refugees in her basement. She and Dieter worked together in the French Resistance. Now, they begin the long and painful task of rebuilding their lives. Ingrid tells readers that she still loves Dieter, “but now I realize we are too shattered in body and soul to celebrate our ‘victory.’ ” Dieter, once a powerful leader of the underground, is blind, the result of a vicious beating after having been arrested by the “Milice, the French Paramilitary Police…created under Vichy leader Pierre Laval.” Ingrid bears her own scars. Right after the liberation, the townspeople of Duchamp, not knowing that Ingrid was in the Resistance, attacked her as a Nazi collaborator, shaving her head and putting her on trial. Although vindicated, she is still the subject of town gossip. In need of a new place to heal, Ingrid heads north in June 1945 to volunteer at a displaced persons camp—“Freiheim”—on the German border in Alsace. Freiheim serves as Book 2’s inflection point, the place where new characters will intersect with the established cast, expanding Ingrid’s cobbled-together family and helping to carry the narrative to 1964. Ingrid is Libby’s (The Resistance Between Us, 2017) articulate, in-the-moment narrator of this compelling tale, which is filled with chilling historical details, many of them revealed through the protagonist’s interviews with European refugees and concentration camp survivors. They arrive at Freiheim broken, locked in the terrors of the past few years, with no hopes for the future. The most poignant and narratively pivotal of these survivors is 11-year-old Maurice Lebenkern. Maurice, who has lost his entire family, will prove to be the vehicle for Dieter’s gradual emotional recovery. Ingrid’s journey is more complex than Dieter’s. She is wrestling with both anger and her guilt for having shot and killed an SS officer in her basement, even though it was in self-defense. The author deftly raises a number of social and political issues in this volume, including the gradual postwar emancipation of Frenchwomen (who did not receive the vote until 1944) and the anti-Semitism that still simmers in Europe (Jewish refugees are assigned to a separate barracks for their own protection). But the bulk of the narrative is relationship driven and heavily emotional. In addition to the complex romance between Dieter and Ingrid, there are several love stories among the more important secondary characters that are engaging, albeit sometimes bordering on melodrama. And Ingrid’s constant mental meanderings and angst in her search for inner peace at times becomes exhausting. Still, with vivid prose and a riveting subject, the story is addictive. Libby’s annotated “Informal Appendix” is a useful linguistic, geographical, historical, and political supplement.

An engrossing and informative postwar tale with an abundance of intriguing characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mistral Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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