An entertaining and ultimately tender book.


A summer vacation to the beaches of South Carolina reunites childhood friends Lisa and Poppy and their families, but when the week ends in tragedy, the survivors are left to untangle the secrets snarled just beneath the surface of their seemingly ordinary lives.

Lisa and Scott Daly are rich and unhappy. Married almost 20 years, they've settled into a routine of petty irritations that contains neither passion nor interest in each other’s lives. When they win an all-expenses-paid vacation to Fripp Island, South Carolina, at Scott’s company’s Christmas party, Lisa jumps at the chance to invite her best friend, Poppy, who has stayed in their hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia, and lives the kind of working-class life Lisa escaped with her marriage to Scott. From the first it's apparent that the families have brought their problems with them to the island. Lisa feels certain Scott is having an affair, one that he seems to be pursuing even on his family vacation. Poppy’s husband, John, is recovering from a nagging back injury, but his reliance on pain medicine has Poppy up every night counting his pills. Poppy’s oldest child, Ryan, an awkward but handsome boy primed to leave for college in the fall, spends more and more time immersed in mysterious projects, and Lisa’s 14-year-old daughter, Rae, is a seething mass of hormones and fragile teenage ego. The younger girls, Poppy’s Alex and Lisa’s Kimmy, are at crossroads of their own, poised in the fraught territory between childhood and the first of their teenage years. Throw into the mix a handyman on the sex-offender registry and his long-distance-runner wife—the improbably named Keats and Roxie Firestone—and the mood of the week is a mix of emotional turmoil with the occasional golden moment of beachfront reconciliation. However, the opening chapter is narrated by the ghost of one member of these two families, describing the moment of their murder during that vacation from the vantage of 20 years in the future. With that in mind, the reader is primed to pick up all the tantalizing clues Kauffman weaves through her sometimes exposition-heavy prose. Our assumptions about whose tensions, desires, rages, and shy longings might erupt into murder are provoked and reversed right up until the final pages, when the mystery of Fripp Island is revealed.

An entertaining and ultimately tender book.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-04152-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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


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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