Earley has a simplistic, at times mindnumbing arch style that is obviously an attempt to give a sepia sheen to what is...

JIM THE BOY

An understated first novel depicting one rather ordinary year in the life of a tenyear-old boy growing up in small-town North Carolina during the Depression.

Jim Glass lost his father to a heart attack while he toiled in the fields three months before his son was born. Now, growing up in the small town of Aliceville, Jim is being raised by his devoted mother and his three no-less-devoted uncles, Zeno and the twins, Coran and Al. Living a kind of Norman Rockwell existence in the mid1930s, Jim, called ``Doc'' by his bachelor uncles, is just starting to experience a world that stretches outside of his tightly controlled environment. He learns how to hoe a cornfield. Traveling with one of his uncles, he gets to see the ocean for the first time. On Christmas Eve he witnesses the results of electricity finally being introduced into the area. He hears inspirational tales of his dead father as well as horrifying accounts of his mean, ornery bootlegging grandfather, who lives in the hills not far from his new pal and sometime adversary, Penn Carson, a Quaker boy who has been bussed, along with other hill folk, to the school that has just been built to replace the old oneroom schoolhouse. And he witnesses his mother turn down the marriage proposal of a wellmeaning traveling seed salesman primarily out of loyalty to her dead husband.

Earley has a simplistic, at times mindnumbing arch style that is obviously an attempt to give a sepia sheen to what is supposed to be a sweet coming-of-age story. The plot is often so light and airy, however, that the book practically floats away, ultimately leaving the reader with a hole where a heart should be. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection)

Pub Date: June 5, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-19964-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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