An artfully crafted coming-of-age story that will take the reader on an exquisite olfactory adventure.

THE SCENT KEEPER

A young girl with a unique talent for identifying scents embarks on a journey of self-discovery when she's ripped from her intensely isolated childhood home.

Emmeline has lived with her father on an otherwise uninhabited island in the Pacific Northwest for as long as she can remember. Her father teaches her to read, to forage for food, and to hone her sense of smell. Emmeline doesn’t question their isolation, as she’s known nothing else. She adores the long days learning from her father, listening to fairy tales, and watching him use his mysterious machine. The machine produces “scent-papers” that her father stashes inside small glass bottles, each paper preserving a one-of-a-kind scent. When tragedy strikes, Emmeline is forced to relocate to the mainland. She is taken in by a kind, childless couple in a seaside village. Similar to a wild animal suddenly brought into captivity, 12-year-old Emmeline struggles to adapt. As she slowly establishes a new life, beginning school and navigating adolescence, questions about her father, her absentee mother, and her own identity continue to grow. The more she learns about her past, the harder it becomes to reconcile her childhood with her future. Told entirely from Emmeline’s perspective, the novel contains three distinct sections. The first, where Emmeline is living in the wild, is suffused with wonder and enchantment. The author deftly describes the lush island and the awe of a little girl watching her father fill a cabin with mysterious bottles full of scents and dreams. Once Emmeline moves to the mainland, the patina of her youth wears off, and much of the magic of the story goes with it. Even so, the author’s ability to describe scents, the nature in which they evolve, and how deeply they are tied to memory and emotion provides sufficient heft to keep the novel engaging and worthwhile. Told in a lyrical, haunting prose, the story provides fascinating information about the ways in which different fragrances can impact human behavior and the struggles of finding one’s own identity.

An artfully crafted coming-of-age story that will take the reader on an exquisite olfactory adventure.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20013-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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