Fast-paced but unsatisfying.

YES & I LOVE YOU

A woman’s crippling anxiety is cured by improv.

Hollyn Tate has a strong following for the New Orleans entertainment column she writes under the pseudonym Miz Poppy. Hollyn is grateful for her anonymity; she has Tourette syndrome, and a lifetime of teasing has led to social anxiety and panic attacks. Hollyn enlists the aid of a therapist, who suggests she force herself to interact with others by renting an office in a building offering flexible “space for the creative.” Hollyn’s facial tics are more pronounced when she meets strangers, which is why her first encounter with Jasper Deares, the cute new office barista, is a total disaster. Jasper is too worried about his own problems to think very much about the rude woman at his workplace, but that night he makes fun of her during his improv troupe’s show—only to discover she’s in the audience. Jasper apologizes and discovers she’s Miz Poppy. They strike up a tentative bargain: He’ll give her one-on-one improv lessons to help her manage her anxiety for an upcoming work project if she’ll give his improv show one more chance and an honest review. Jasper and Hollyn are well matched, and their friendship quickly morphs into a sexy and fun “friends with benefits'' arrangement. Unfortunately, the book’s melodramatic plotting—emergency surgeries, interfering friends, and meddling ex-lovers—means Jasper and Hollyn spend most of the book rushing from one problem to the next. Readers hungry for a sensitive, thoughtful portrayal of mental health issues might find it glib that a few weeks of improv classes, some well-timed pep talks, and a new lover could cure Hollyn of a lifetime of debilitating anxiety.

Fast-paced but unsatisfying.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-961-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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