Dryly funny and deeply tender; draining and worth it.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING THROUGH

A woman is enlisted to help a dying friend commit suicide in Nunez’s latest novel, which—true to form—is short, sharp, and quietly brutal.

Nunez returns to many of the topics she mined in The Friend, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2018: the meaning of life, the nature of death, writing, the purpose of friendship. This is hardly a criticism; in fact, what else is there? The novel, spare and elegant and immediate, often feeling closer to essay than fiction, is as much about its unnamed narrator’s thoughts as the events of her life (is there a difference?). To the extent there is a “plot”—less a “plot” than “circumstances to inspire thinking”—it is this: A writer in late middle age goes to another city to visit an old friend who is sick. Later, when it becomes clear that the friend’s condition is terminal, she enlists our narrator to assist her in ending her life. Not to help with the actual dying part—“I know what to do,” she quips. “It’s not complicated”—but rather with everything that should happen in the interim. What she wants is to rent a house for the end, nothing special, “just somewhere I can be peaceful and do the last things that need to be done.” And she would like our narrator to be there. “I can’t be completely alone,” she explains. “What if something goes wrong? What if everything goes wrong?” She will, she promises “make it as much fun as possible.” Reluctantly, the narrator agrees. Most of the novel, though, is not about this, or at least not directly. Instead, the narrator considers her past and her present. She attends the doomsday climate lecture of an ex-boyfriend. She thinks about an unpleasant neighbor. She recounts, delightfully and in great detail, the plot of a murder mystery she is reading and then circles back to the trauma of aging, for everyone, and especially for women. The novel is concerned with the biggest possible questions and confronts them so bluntly it is sometimes jarring: How should we live in the face of so much suffering?

Dryly funny and deeply tender; draining and worth it.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-19141-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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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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