Although the book is a tad sentimental, it possesses quiet grace.

OFTEN I AM HAPPY

A simple, melancholic tale of love, loss, grief, and friendship.

As for many artists before him—Shakespeare, Austen, Bergman—for veteran Danish author Grøndahl (An Altered Light, 2005, etc.), everything seems to come down to love, marriage, and family. This short, wistful novel, the first to be translated into English by Grøndahl himself, takes on those classic subjects through the person of Ellinor, a 70-year-old Copenhagen woman. The book’s title is from a poem by the Danish poet B.S. Ingemann: “Often I am happy and yet I want to cry.” Ellinor’s first words to us are: “Now your husband is also dead, Anna. Your husband, our husband.” Ellinor’s husband, Georg, died three weeks ago, and she feels the need to talk to someone. She picks Anna, Georg’s late first wife and her own best friend, and talks to her via a dramatic monologue which is like a long letter: “His absence felt like a lump growing inside me, making me suffocate. I never felt so alone.” She now has a companion who will listen, but “you have no ears to hear any of this.” She knows it’s “absurd” but she’s lonely, grief-stricken, and it helps comfort her. The plot is very spare. Her first husband, Henning, died 40 years ago in a skiing accident which also killed Anna. Some secrets are revealed. We learn from Ellinor that Henning had been having an affair with Anna. Ellinor then became like a stepmother to Anna’s twin sons, Stefan and Morten, and helped Georg raise them. Eventually, she and Georg married. We learn that Ellinor was an only child from an affair her mother had with a German soldier; she never knew her father. Ellinor is a meek, reserved woman living a simple life. She can get angry, bitter, and sarcastic, and this helps make her seem human as she gradually reveals herself to be a strong, courageous woman.

Although the book is a tad sentimental, it possesses quiet grace.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7007-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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