The Great American Pandemic Novel only Shteyngart could write, full of hyphenated identities, killer prose, and wild...

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OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS

The Levin-Senderovskys—Sasha, Masha, and little Natasha—wait out the virus at their country estate with four close friends and one movie star.

One of Sasha Senderovsky's fondest memories of his childhood is the bungalow colony catering to Russian immigrant families where he first met his wife, Masha. With the proceeds of his once-successful writing career, he has built a colony of his own, though it's in an area of New York state where a deconstructed swastika is becoming a popular bumper sticker, and he's having trouble scraping together the cash to get the dead tree limbs out of the driveway before the party starts. Karen Cho and Vinod Mehta have been his best friends since high school. She's stratospherically rich after creating an app that makes people fall in love; he's failed at everything except being a very good person and loving Karen ceaselessly from afar. They are joined by Karen's distant cousin, an international dandy named Ed; Senderovsky's beautiful former student Dee, who leverages her Southern drawl and heritage to great effect on and off the page; and someone known only as the Actor, whose fame, charisma, and good looks are almost beyond description. Except Shteyngart, most recently of the fantastic Lake Success(2018) and most famously of Super Sad True Love Story (2010), can describe anything. Russian: "a language built around the exhalation of warmth and pain." Cheeses: "so filled with aromatic herbs they inspired (on Senderovsky's part) memories that had never happened." One could go on. When the curtain rises on the House on the Hill, as the place is known, it's early March 2020; Senderovsky has to ask his guests to refrain from hugging because "Masha's gone all epidemiological." Everyone seems to gather that they'll be staying for a while, but, of course, they have no idea. Uncle Vanya, K-pop, and Japanese reality TV will all play important roles, and just about everyone gets to fall in love.

The Great American Pandemic Novel only Shteyngart could write, full of hyphenated identities, killer prose, and wild vitality.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984855-12-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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