A spellbinding, compelling, and multifaceted tale about an Iranian family haunted by war.

A GIRL CALLED RUMI

An Iranian woman living in America confronts the trauma of her war-torn childhood in this debut novel.

Honarvar’s tale opens in Shiraz, Iran, in 1981 during the Iran-Iraq War. Kimia Shams is a 9-year-old girl on an errand to buy naan at a bakery when she is distracted by a puppet show performed by an enigmatic, aging storyteller. The square is targeted by a missile strike, and Kimia is dragged to safety by her brother, Arman. Kimia and her friend Reza Khan return to the scene of the devastation and discover a trapdoor that leads them into the magical realm of the storyteller, Baba Morshed. As the story unfolds, Baba tells the children a quest tale about the Simorgh, a bird from Persian mythology. Fast-forward to 2009, and Kimia is working as a spiritual counselor in California. She and her family still grapple with the psychological impact of war—her mother in particular is afflicted by bouts of shaking yet longs to return to her homeland. Kimia and her family journey to Iran but find themselves in the midst of the Green Uprising, where the ghosts of their past pose a clear danger. Honarvar’s gorgeously evocative prose subtly captures the young Kimia’s irrepressible delight in the face of oppression: “My sun-soaked eyes followed the touch, and although I couldn’t make out his face, I knew it was Reza. I broke into a smile. Not even my hijab could restrain the elation beaming from me.” The narrative is written predominantly from Kimia’s perspective, but some chapters are devoted to the viewpoints of other characters, such as Arman. Each is written in the first person, and although the author presents a variety of distinct voices, some readers may feel that a third-person narrative mode for such players would add further stylistic texture. This is a minor criticism of a story that draws beautifully on the power of Iranian fables to unearth the magical, restorative world that Kimia finds beneath the rubble of war: “The smooth texture of the wall changed to a rugged surface with dramatic peaks and valleys. I paused and examined a stone carving of the giant Simorgh stretched out before me.” This stellar first novel marks the writer as an author to watch.

A spellbinding, compelling, and multifaceted tale about an Iranian family haunted by war.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-942436-46-1

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Forest Avenue Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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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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