An intimate, honest exploration of motherhood, compassionate and beautifully written.

THE CHILD

In this memoirlike novel by prizewinning Norwegian author Skomsvold, a writer confides a stream of thoughts and fears to her second child, a baby.

Affected by memories of a debilitating illness, and struggling with anxiety and depression, the narrator is terrified of failing as a mother. "I’m useless when it comes to looking after things. I ruin everything, especially the things I treasure most." Before falling in love with her husband, Bo, she'd been resigned to not having children. After the birth of her first son, she became convinced her brain was altered. "The only thing I managed to write was that I was crying. I’m crying, crying all the time, I wrote." Now, with her second son, she's determined to return to writing. "I wake up in the mornings and look at you and say, today we must work, little one! It was as if you had to come, as if I had to have you to tell you all these things, you had to come and create another new beginning so that I could see in some reasonably clear light the years that went before, and see the change that has taken place." The book, loosely addressed to the baby, details her struggles and anxieties, family history, moments of both panic and calm. She tells him about a beloved aunt, about her and Bo's courtship, the story of a friend who committed suicide. The vivid, fragmentary narrative is shot through with a sense of the passing of time: "I didn’t realize how fast everything changes, how briefly the magnolia trees are in bloom, how quickly the pinched-handkerchief bracts of the dove tree disappear. I’d sat with the child in my arms all through the spring, the summer, the autumn; he was in my arms and in my heart and all the time he was changing ever so slightly. There was something new by the minute, and something else that was lost, and before I knew it that time was gone." As she writes her thoughts and observations, we witness her slowly gaining a greater sense of equanimity. "Fortunately it’s not just happy stories that end well."

An intimate, honest exploration of motherhood, compassionate and beautifully written.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948830-40-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Open Letter

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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