STARLING DAYS

Depression, like other psychiatric conditions, is often treated as a personal failure, a refusal to pull oneself together and do what’s needed.

Oscar is at his wit’s end. Although he and Mina have been together for 10 years, the deterioration of his wife’s mental health has left him baffled. On the surface everything is fine: They finally married six months ago, and while Mina’s academic career is floundering, he has a decent job working with his dad. What’s more, they have a nice-enough Manhattan apartment and plenty of friends. Why, then, did Mina gulp a handful of pills on their wedding night? And why, barely six months later, did police remove her from a ledge on the George Washington Bridge? As Oscar grapples with his wife’s ostensible death wish, he is offered a chance to work in London for a few months. Thinking that a change of scene will benefit Mina, the pair upend their lives, sublet their NYC apartment, and move. Not surprisingly, their troubles follow them across the Atlantic, and when Oscar is summoned back to the U.S. for an emergency business meeting, he is forced to leave Mina alone; although a phone app is supposed to track her movements, it doesn’t. What follows is a gripping, tender, and unsettling look at mental illness. Mina’s impulsiveness and obsessive behaviors, seemingly illogical, are sympathetically drawn. So, too, is Oscar’s desire to run head-on into more stable surroundings, far from depressive disorders and suicidal ideation. Poetic and understated, this nuanced work by Buchanan (Harmless Like You, 2017) also addresses adult-child relationships, the legacy of family trauma, and the challenge of offering unconditional love.

Complex and resonant.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4359-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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