By the time the novel belatedly reaches the big reveal, the reader has passed the point of caring.


Two men walk into a pub, and they drink and talk until they can’t do either for much longer.

Much of Irish novelist Doyle's latest is made up of dialogue, unattributed, as recounted by a man in his late middle age named Davy. He's joined by Joe, a drinking buddy from his Dublin youth, though decades and geography have left some distance between them. Davy and his wife have long lived in England. He returns (alone) to visit his widowed father in Dublin, where Joe still lives. Neither of them drinks much anymore, but now that they're reunited, they decide to do it up like old times. As their talk gets more drunken, sloppier and circular, those old times are very much on Joe’s mind, because he recently left his wife for Jessica, a woman he had first met in those long-ago pubs with Davy and hadn’t seen for almost four decades. So they talk of who they were and who they are, their marriages and their families, since neither knows the other’s much at all. In some ways, they no longer know each other well. Yet they know each other better than anyone else does, as the much younger men they once were. And perhaps still are? As Joe confesses and Davy badgers him, Davy also shares with the reader at least some of what’s on his mind: his own marriage and something he doesn't want to share with Joe. He keeps checking his phone for a call that doesn’t come. They keep ordering another round, pints that neither of them really wants. “The drink is funny, though, isn’t it?” says Joe. “You see things clearly but then you can’t get at the words to express them properly.” Whatever clarity they are finding isn't all that clear to the reader, who is beginning to find their company as exhausting and interminable as they do. It seems that Davy is hiding something, burying something, doing his best to escape something from which there is perhaps no escape. Eventually, they have to leave.

By the time the novel belatedly reaches the big reveal, the reader has passed the point of caring.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-8045-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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