A masterfully constructed story of identity and ambition and an authentic portrait of one unforgettable Filipino family.

THE SON OF GOOD FORTUNE

An undocumented Filipino American teenager struggles to make sense of his past in order to move into the future.

After spending nine months in the desert of Southern California, 19-year-old Excel Maxino ("like the spreadsheet") tries sneaking back into his old apartment via the fire escape but finds himself at the business end of a switchblade, wielded by his mother, Maxima. A former D-list star of Philippine action movies, Maxima welcomes Excel back with leftover Panda Express and doesn't ask any questions about his reappearance. Instead, she must get back to work scamming men on online dating sites to make ends meet. Though Excel doesn't volunteer the truth of his nine-month excursion, the chapters alternate between his present-day struggles to raise money and his misguided adventure to the desert oasis of Hello City, where he and his girlfriend, Sab, tried to make a life for themselves. This deceptively simple back-and-forth structure yields a rich cast of characters, who quickly populate the world and bring it to life. Gunter, a Serbian immigrant, rehires Excel at The Pie Who Loved Me, a children's pizzeria with an espionage theme, with hilarious and unfortunate results. Joker, the grandmaster who trained Maxima in martial arts, slips forbidden comic books to Excel before his unfortunate passing. While most interactions within this widening circle of relationships serve to advance the plot, a few of the roles feel a bit forced, as with Gunter's grandfather Zivko, who studies a dictionary at the pizzeria and slips words and phrases into Excel's lexicon. But the occasional diversion doesn't detract from the propulsive prose, captivating characters, and vital details of immigrant life, like the Tagalog phrase for undocumented Phillipinos, "TNT," which stands for tago ng tago: hiding and hiding.

A masterfully constructed story of identity and ambition and an authentic portrait of one unforgettable Filipino family.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-205957-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more