A deft, patient portrait of grief.

THE SHAPE OF FAMILY

After calamity strikes, the members of the Olander family struggle to find their paths back to each other.

The children of an American father and an Indian mother, Karina and Prem Olander have learned to stick together. Thirteen-year-old Karina defends Prem, 8, from school bullies and even walks hand in hand with him on the way home, but she wants her time alone, too. Pushing Prem away one afternoon so that she can spend time trying on makeup and talking to her best friend, however, leads to a deadly accident. With each chapter telling the story from a different family member’s perspective, Gowda (The Golden Son, 2016, etc.) traces the fallout lines with compassion and a keen eye for the lies we tell ourselves to avoid facing our own demons. While Prem watches from someplace after death, his and Karina's parents split up, with their father, Keith, submerging himself in his work in the financial industry and making some ethically questionable decisions. Their mother, Jaya, drifts away from everyone, rediscovering her spirituality, spending hours in ritualized prayer, building a temple in the family's home, and following the teachings of a prominent Hindu guru. With Prem’s chapters underdeveloped, Gowda focuses primarily on Karina, tracing her spiral first into depression and then into self-destructive behavior. Once she leaves for college, Karina is primed to fall in love, to be betrayed, and to find solace at the Sanctuary. A communal farm headed by the charismatic Micah, the Sanctuary offers Karina meaningful work surrounded by people who embrace her, bearing witness to her sense of guilt. But as Karina begins to suspect that Micah may not be quite who he claims to be, Gowda ratchets up the tension, shifting gears into a thriller late in the game, setting in motion the family’s reunion.

A deft, patient portrait of grief.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293322-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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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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