cover image Virtue


Hermione Hoby. Riverhead, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-18859-0

Hoby (Neon in Daylight) delivers an accomplished take on class and protests against racial injustice. “That was just what you did on weekends—brunch and protest,” Luca Lewis wryly narrates in 2027, looking back on his time interning at a New York City magazine as a naive 22-year-old in 2016–2017. He yearns to befriend fellow intern Zara McKing, an attractive Black woman, but feels ashamed of his whiteness and unsure of how to be an ally. Luca also becomes enamored with Paula Summers, an artist working at the magazine, and her indie filmmaker husband, Jason Frank, and spends the summer with the couple and their five kids in Maine as Paula and Jason fight over how to respond to racial injustice (in the city, Jason took the kids to protests; in Maine, Paula insists on carrying on traditions such as a Fourth of July parade). Toward the end of the summer, Luca learns of a tragedy involving Zara during a protest. Hoby’s writing sparks with inventiveness (“The sky had a passive-aggressive quality, bruised clouds withholding their light while telling you they were fine”), and she offers insights on the damage of power imbalances in relationships. This speaks volumes on the shallowness of white privilege. Agent: Marya Spence, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)