An important, coming-of-age tale with a sensitive, observant lead.


In Garvey’s autobiographical novel, a young Black protagonist (and narrator) learns a lot about his parents and about vicious racism, mostly on a cross-country car trek in the 1960s.

The spine of the novel is the Gardners’ road trip from Los Angeles to Miami in a new Plymouth Valiant. The plan is to ferry the car, father Emerson, mother Madeline, and the unnamed son to a triumphal return to their native Jamaica. Along the way, however, there are many flashbacks. Emerson showed great promise as a medical wannabe, and Madeline is a nurse and outspoken and ambitious. The boy is a precocious only child. Emerson is cautious and submissive when that seems prudent; Madeline is a firecracker, pushing the envelope in the Jim Crow South. The boy (he is reading Wright’s Black Boy in the back seat) is by turns confused, scared by his parents’ bickering, and stunned by the prejudice that was not quite so obvious on the West Coast. The climax of the novel occurs when the civil rights movement is coming to its fevered and most violent pitch. The ending is initially surprising, though not so much, perhaps, on reflection. Garvey is a very good writer, capable of striking similes (crumpled rejection letters “fluttered to the floor like crippled doves”) and the pithy apothegm (“I cannot turn endeavor into penance and pretend it’s virtue”). The changing exposition—shifting between place and time—can be confusing. But one does get used to it. What strikes the reader is the tragic gap—no, chasm—between these Black characters’ obvious talents and indomitable striving and the way that they get rebuffed time and time and time again. It bears mention that the kid in the back seat grew up to be a published writer and accomplished classical violinist.  

An important, coming-of-age tale with a sensitive, observant lead.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9822294-7-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jonkro Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 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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