A low-energy novel about obsession; the sparks never fly.

ALL ABOUT LULU

He loves her obsessively. She’s conflicted. The standoff between stepbrother and stepsister lasts throughout Evison’s first novel.

Will Miller, protagonist and narrator, lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his brothers, the twins Doug and Ross. Their father, Big Bill, a hippie turned bodybuilder, spends all his time at the gym. Eat meat, the big guy tells his kids; bulk up. Soon the twins are working out too, but Will rebels; when he’s seven, in 1974, he announces he’s a vegetarian. Not long after, his mother dies and Big Bill remarries. His new wife is another former hippie. Willow, a grief counselor, settles in with her daughter Lulu. The girl’s features don’t quite fit but she’s beautiful anyway and Will is smitten, filling up journal after journal singing her praises; the two become inseparable, communicating in their own private language. Everything goes swimmingly until Lulu returns from a cheerleading camp in Vermont a different person, distant and chilly. It gets worse. She starts mutilating herself and behaving like a mixed-up teenager, though hardly an interesting one. Only at the very end do we learn what happened in Vermont and the good reason for her change. She acquires boyfriends and then dumps them. “I will always settle for less than you,” she tells Will cryptically. At university in Seattle she’s impregnated by a musician; we’re not told what happens to the fetus. Big Bill develops heart problems, the result of steroid use; Evison doesn’t make much of this stunning development either. As for Will, a born loser, he stays obsessed with Lulu. His occasional dates are disasters. Even when running a hot-dog stand on the boardwalk with a colorful Russian immigrant, he remains colorless himself.

A low-energy novel about obsession; the sparks never fly.

Pub Date: July 25, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59376-196-7

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2008

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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