A topic both timely and timeless, psychologically astute and vividly rendered, with strong characters and a rich sense of...

OLIVER LOVING

Ten years later, a school shooting in West Texas is revisited from the perspective of a family it changed forever.

What we know, what Eve Loving, her husband, Jed, and their son, Charlie, know, is this: a recent graduate named Hector Espina Jr. returned to the Bliss Township School campus the night of the homecoming dance, shot the drama teacher and three of the students who were rehearsing with him, ran into Oliver Loving in the hall and put a bullet in his head, and then committed suicide. What Oliver knows or doesn’t know is unclear, as he remains in a coma a decade later in a dismal facility devoted to hopeless cases. Is he locked into his paralyzed body, fully aware, or has he been gone ever since that November night? The narration of his memories leading up to the dance—which revolve around a crush on a classmate who walked away from the shooting unscathed—suggests that he’s in there, but the reader can’t be sure. The intervening decade has not been good to the town of Bliss or to any of the Lovings. The high school never reopened, and the town’s Latino population fled the wave of xenophobia that arose from the incident. Eve Loving has become a wasted, martyred woman who compulsively pulls out her eyelashes and shoplifts books and electronics as gifts for her son when he awakens. Jed and she are separated; he’s tumbled ever further into alcoholism, silence, and fruitless attempts at making art. Charlie Loving, 13 at the time of the tragedy, eventually gave up on trying to stanch his parents’ emotional wounds and fled to the East Coast, where he has been trying to write a book about his brother with no success at all. When a new MRI becomes available that may definitively resolve the question of Oliver’s consciousness, perhaps allowing him to communicate and give answers about what happened that night, it turns out that all the survivors have known, and buried, much more than they ever let on. Block (The Storm at the Door, 2011, etc.) has serious chops; he should trust the reader more, repeat and analyze a little less.

A topic both timely and timeless, psychologically astute and vividly rendered, with strong characters and a rich sense of place.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-16973-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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