Strikingly imagistic and contemplative poetry that will live on in memory.

THE ART OF FALLING

This volume of poetry explores themes of parenthood, the natural world, and the pleasures and pains of existence.

Wendell’s spellbinding collection opens with a poem entitled “Portrait Chinois,” in which the author observes a picture of the artist Frida Kahlo: “I study the woman staring back, / wondering why she kept / dark caterpillars inching / over darker eyes.” The piece ponders representations of the female body—with the poet revealing that she cut her hair after injuring herself falling from a horse—and proceeds to celebrate survival. Horse riding is a common theme in this book. The following poem, “Ride,” considers the freedom and naïveté of riding in childhood, with “no inkling of danger.” Similarly, the title poem is about the necessity to relax when falling off a horse and how this applies to life’s other distressing events. Poems such as “Blizzard of Nothing” and “Storm Chaser” bear witness to the awesome power of nature, whereas “Southpaw” and “Kites” are tender examinations of parenthood. The thoughtful collection ends with “Viva la Vida,” a tribute to endurance and a further nod to Kahlo’s art. Readers new to Wendell’s poetry will be struck by her use of distinctive imagery. In “Blizzard of Nothing,” settling snow is “a crazed Einstein, / erasing what came before / to start the lesson over— / a blizzard of wisdoms / traveling at the speed of relative / incomprehensibility.” The author has a refreshingly imaginative gaze. Simple acts, such as kite flying, become effortlessly analogous to the art of parenting: “My daughter, for instance. / The closer, / the easier to manipulate. / The farther out, / more risk and thrill.” Wendell’s poetry resonates with mature, often tough wisdom: “Come off a horse enough times, / and you learn how to fall.” But among life’s agonizing lessons her pieces also locate simple ecstasies, such as stargazing: “I want to sleep to drink / from that dark rift / between stars, / I want to empty / the ladle of light.” Wendell is a dazzlingly inventive and perceptive poet, and it proves a joy to see the world through her eyes.

Strikingly imagistic and contemplative poetry that will live on in memory.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-952593-23-9

Page Count: 86

Publisher: FutureCycle Press

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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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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