A contemplative collection of poetry that captures both the pain and pleasure of all kinds of love.


Stevenson’s slim poetry book explores the exquisite pain of love and loss.

The opening poem, “Je t’aime,” chronicles the peak, and subsequent downfall, of a relationship. Stevenson offers advice like “Stay away / From the amphitheater of fear” in “Being Is So Extensive.” “I Never Suspected” confronts aging and mortality. Nature and the absence of loved ones merge in “The Whiffling Wind.” The speaker’s mother, who died from lung disease, is the subject of “Once Upon a Time My Mother Mattered,” whose narrative takes a strange, incestuous turn. The drama continues in “Mama Cry, No Cry” as a father’s death upends the family dynamic. The author mulls over a missed connection at a train station in Switzerland in “What Was the Name.” A romantic reunion is the focus of “Is It Possible?” In “There’s No Point,” “The wanting of things of sex or power or women” is renounced in favor of the simple pleasure of breathing. When an unequal love becomes unbearable, the speaker “withdrew to the basic grammar of a solitude” in “I Write the Song.” “My Equestrian Event” is a shocking story of rape at a Kentucky racetrack. Stevenson’s descriptions of desire are visceral and unique, “from a beautiful thirst to a yearning mouth” to the way a whisper proclaiming love “slowly scars into a scream.” He weaves nature seamlessly into his poems, describing everything from a “forest of shadows” and “an echo of trees” to “darkness stabbed with stars.” Some of the metaphors miss the mark, however, such as, “The spilled emotional milk flecked with blood / The jar of sexual joy smashed to smithereens.” But other turns of phrase are so gorgeous one must pause to appreciate them: “accept the monstrous / Beauty of just being here.” Stevenson’s writing style is accessible and streamlined and will appeal to many readers regardless of their experience with poetry.

A contemplative collection of poetry that captures both the pain and pleasure of all kinds of love.

Pub Date: July 10, 2021


Page Count: 72

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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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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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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