A haunting but captivating novel featuring poignant characters.

THE LAST LAST FIGHT

Lehman’s debut novel depicts a family tragedy as narrated by the oldest of four siblings.

Samantha “Sammi” Hollander was 11 years old in 1968 when her father beat her mother so viciously that she was sent to the hospital for almost a week. Afterward, he left his spouse and his four children, ranging in age from 1 to 11. Seven years later, in 1975, he’s still gone, and the rest of them live in a double-wide trailer in the small fictional town of Altera, Oregon. Eighteen-year old Sammi and her 16-year-old sister, Mary, work shifts at the Dairy Queen, helping to support the family. Their brother Randy is 10, and little Davy is 8. Sammi is the family’s de facto mother; she’s Davy’s emotional rock and the only one who can soothe his fears. At one point, narrator Sammi describes their life with their mother, Claire: “I think about the different ‘Moms’ me and the sibs had. Normal Mom, Depressed Mom, Psycho Bitch Mom, Happy Mom, Drunk Mom.” This heart-rending story about troubled people—some broken beyond repair, others surviving with stunning strength—is liberally sprinkled with colloquialisms that bring the culture, place, and time to life. The white Hollander family’s drama also plays out against the story of Altera’s racial bigotry, expressed primarily through the residents’ hateful treatment of Sammi’s best friend, Caitlin Patters, who’s black. The story is also filled with visceral images of violence: “Mom turned her palm up-ways, brought it close to me, to the skin under my chin and above my neck, that place where old folks get all flabby and loose. She grabbed that skin under my chin between her thumb and her index finger, tight….Worst pain she caused me without making me bleed.” Sammi’s recollections of years past are interspersed throughout as the story builds to a catastrophic, shocking conclusion.

A haunting but captivating novel featuring poignant characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 421

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: April 8, 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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REMINDERS OF HIM

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.

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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