The novel hits its share of false or clumsy notes, but it's not ruined by them thanks to Rash's sure evocation of the time...

THE RISEN

The latest from prolific poet and fiction writer Rash, a 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award finalist for Serena, provides a damaged man's look back at a long-ago and haunted past.

It's 1969. Eugene and his older brother, Bill, who live with their mother and their tyrannical town-doctor grandfather in a small town in western North Carolina, are spending a summer afternoon at their remote fishing hole when they encounter a sylphlike young woman—a "mermaid," she says—who introduces herself as Ligeia. She's from Florida and has been banished to this backwater after a misadventure in a commune, to live with a preacher uncle and his family. She is a miracle of exoticism, an in-this-place unprecedented representative of hippiedom, and the boys immediately sign up for training in free love. The more ambitious and dutiful brother, Bill, already well on his way to the medical career his grandfather has ordained for him, quickly pulls back, but his more impulsive younger brother, smitten, falls into an extended summer romance with Ligeia (to whom he supplies stolen sample packs of the downers she prefers) and embarks in earnest on what will be a more enduring relationship with drink. Flash-forward 46 years: Bill has fulfilled his destiny and become a celebrated surgeon, while Eugene, who once dabbled promisingly with writing, has given it up and devoted himself full-time to alcohol and self-loathing. He lives in exile from his family, having scarred and nearly killed his daughter in a booze-caused crash, and he and Bill are only rarely and tensely in touch. But when a skeleton is found, spilled into the creek after decades shrouded in a blue tarp, the two brothers are forced to wrangle again with each other and with the events of that fateful summer.

The novel hits its share of false or clumsy notes, but it's not ruined by them thanks to Rash's sure evocation of the time and place and the complexity and poignancy of his portrait of his protagonist.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-062-43631-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

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 7, 2014

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