A fictional case study, at once pedantic and riveting.

COST

Robinson (A Perfect Stranger: And Other Stories, 2005, etc.) offers the unrelentingly pessimistic story of a woman coming to grips with her son’s heroin addiction.

Julia, a divorced artist and art professor in Manhattan, has two grown sons: responsible Steven, who has been working as a conservation activist in Seattle but is returning east to attend law school, and his younger brother Jack, an erstwhile musician who has always been the family risk-taker and troublemaker. The novel opens on the glum scene of Julia attempting to entertain her difficult, aging parents at her Maine vacation house. Already tense from trying to be a dutiful daughter despite her resentment toward her rigid father Edward and her impatience with her placid mother Katharine, who is actually losing her memory, Julia falls to pieces when Steven arrives and admits his suspicion that Jack has become a heroin addict. She immediately calls her ex-husband Wendell who goes to Jack’s squalid apartment and drags him to Maine for a family intervention including distraught Edward and clueless Katharine. Before any real conversation can take place, Jack goes into withdrawal. A desperate Wendell calls 911, and Jack is hospitalized. The family now rally around professional interventionist Ralph Carpenter, who arrives shortly before Jack, having escaped from the hospital, is arrested while attempting to rob a drug store. After Julia unwisely puts up her cottage as security that Jack will show up for his trial, he is allowed to enter Ralph’s rehab program in Florida. At first Julia remains in partial denial, unable to grasp how grave Jack’s condition is, but the “hypnotic and dreadful” Ralph gives Julia and readers a full course in the horrors and hopelessness of heroin addiction, so no one is surprised when Jack shoots up and is kicked out of the rehab program Ralph runs. Meanwhile, family dynamics are deeply affected for better and worse until Jack hits the inevitable bottom.

A fictional case study, at once pedantic and riveting.

Pub Date: June 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-27187-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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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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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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