At one point, even the baby is “trying to solve the mystery of causes and consequences,” which puzzled readers will...

VIVIANE

This debut by a French novelist puts a mystery inside a narrative puzzle.

An epigram from Samuel Beckett introduces this slim novel about the titular protagonist and occasional narrator, a 42-year-old woman who recently gave birth to her first child. She suffers from severe panic attacks and receives medication. Within the narrative, Viviane is more often referred to as “you,” though sometimes as “I” or “we,” and occasionally she refers to herself as “Elisabeth.” Viviane is plainly mad, which means “you” are as well, as “you” (the reader) attempt to discern the motivation behind the crime that the protagonist may (or may not) have committed. “[T]hat’s just what she wants, to bring some order to her memory,” says the narrative at a point where Viviane has become “she.” “Instead of coming to light, however, events are retreating ever deeper into darkness.” This much is relatively clear: Viviane’s husband has separated from her, perhaps because of a younger woman, perhaps because Viviane is crazy, perhaps because the marriage was a mistake from the beginning. Or perhaps all of the preceding. She feels that younger women are a threat to her in the workplace as well as in her marriage: “You know that you’re not twenty anymore and that young women are lying in ambush, ready to take your place and wring your neck.” Affairs abound in the novel, generally between older men and younger women, complicating the plot and adding to intrigue on various levels. At one point, a man who may or may not be having one of these affairs is described (presumably by Viviane) as “either really handsome or absolutely not.” The plot’s mystery resolves itself in surprising fashion, but mysteries of language, consciousness, identity and perspective remain impenetrable.

At one point, even the baby is “trying to solve the mystery of causes and consequences,” which puzzled readers will immediately find relatable.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-964-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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