A warmhearted portrayal of family and forgiveness with some loose threads.

A QUESTION MARK IS HALF A HEART

At nearly 50, renowned Manhattan photographer Elin Boals is at the top of her game, but a mysterious letter threatens to splinter her life.

The letter isn't even a letter, really. It's a star chart sent from her childhood best friend, Fredrik, whom she hasn't seen since she abruptly left Sweden at 13. After all these years, why would he have bought her a star? More importantly, why does the chart inspire Elin to run a search, querying the statute of limitations for homicide in Sweden? As Elin reminisces, she’s already impossibly late for yet another family dinner—even her daughter Alice's acceptance to dance school can't entice Elin from her work. Her husband, Sam, is about ready to divorce her. Yet even as Sam and Alice plead for her attention, Elin drifts further away, and this time her work suffers, too, as Elin begins to forget who, when, and where she's shooting her next gig. Lundberg alternates short chapters between Elin's present and past lives, but what ought to build tension toward the revelation of why Elin left home—not to mention why she's kept her childhood secret from Sam and Alice and who might have committed homicide—falls flat. Elin’s personality is so sweet and her childhood story so like a fairy tale that it's hard to see even abusers as villains. Moreover, the star chart never seems to turn into a real clue. Indeed, few clues point to the actual disaster that drove Elin away. Consequently, when it does arrive, the climactic moment seems like it comes from another novel. Nonetheless, Lundberg does deftly spin the tale of Alice and Elin’s reconciliation, as Elin decides to tell her daughter everything. Together they travel to Sweden, heading back into Elin's past, ready to face the truth.

A warmhearted portrayal of family and forgiveness with some loose threads.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-47302-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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