Tackles but ultimately oversimplifies thorny issues.


A hospice nurse, baffled by her husband’s drastic personality change after his third deployment to Iraq, gleans valuable lessons from a dying World War II historian.

Deborah Birch, who has found her calling caring for dying patients in Portland, Oregon, is the only attendant retired professor Barclay Reed has not yet fired. She wins him over by showing an interest in his life’s work, an unpublished treatise about the only Axis bombing to take place on American soil—in Oregon, when Ichiro Soga, a Japanese pilot, took off from a submarine in a light plane, bent on firebombing the state’s famed virgin timber. Chapters from the treatise are interspersed throughout as Deb reads them to Barclay. Afflicted with terminal kidney cancer, Barclay also suffers from the blows life has dealt: his isolation from family and friends after his academic career ended due to a false accusation of plagiarism. Deb has another troubled soul to deal with at home, her husband, Michael, a Guardsman who survived his first two tours of duty in Iraq comparatively unscathed. After the third, however, he returned exhibiting full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder and has grown cold toward his wife and dangerously irascible. A skilled driver and car buff who works as a mechanic, he's now without wheels thanks to a road rage incident—police impounded his car after he pursued and rammed another driver for parking in a handicapped space. When Deb confides in Barclay, he tells her the key to unpacking the puzzle of Michael’s trauma may lie in studying the code of a warrior. The story of Soga, a descendant of samurais, and his atonement for the bombing is the key to that understanding. The sections concerning Soga and his odd rapprochement with the Oregon town he attacked are often more engaging than the plights of the contemporary characters. Kiernan (The Curiosity, 2013) seeds this saga with occasional sanctimony, bald symbolism, and overly facile epiphanies.

Tackles but ultimately oversimplifies thorny issues.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-236954-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


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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