Every so often a novel comes along that immediately marks itself as truly special, with a story that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page. THE SECOND ENDING (Ballantine, May 2023). by Michelle Hoffman’ (her first novel), is a quirky, delightful story of second chances, unexpected joys, and the power of music. As she says in Authorlink’s video chat, she hopes the novel inspires people to unearth their own dreams, harness their power, and experience the extraordinary in an ordinary day. Everyone needs someone who believes in them.

In THE SECOND ENDING, Prudence Childs was once the most famous kindergartner on the planet. After teaching herself to play piano at age three, she performed at the White House, appeared on talk shows, and inspired a generation of children to take up lessons. But as adolescence closed in, Prudence began to see that she was just another exploited child star, pushed into fame by her cruel grandmother. Prudence ran away—from both performing and her greedy handler—as soon as she was old enough to vote. Flat broke and alone, she took a job writing commercial jingles, which earned her a fortune but left her creatively adrift.

Now forty-eight, with her daughters away at school, Prudence is determined to reconnect with the artist she once was and agrees to compete on a wildly popular dueling pianos TV show. Unfortunately, her new spotlight captures the attention of her terrible ex-husband, Bobby, who uses the opportunity to blackmail her over a secret she thought she’d buried in the past. If she doesn’t win, she won’t just be a musical failure; she’ll also be bankrupted and exposed in front of millions.

Her on-air rival, virtuoso Alexei Petrov, a stunning young Internet sensation with a massive audience and a dreamy Russian accent, has problems of his own. His overbearing parents’ domineering ways made him a technically flawless pianist but left him without friends, hobbies, or any kind of life outside his music.

As they prepare to face off on stage, the retired prodigy and the exhausted wunderkind realize that the competition is their chance to prove—to their terrible exes, tyrannical family members, and most importantly, themselves—that it’s never too late to write a new ending.

In writing her debut novel, Michelle knew that literary publication is next to impossible,  Still, she got up every morning to write, after a single incident inspired her. While working as an A&E reporter for the Arizona Republic, she interviewed then-94-year-old Dale Wasserman, the Tony award-winning Broadway playwright who wrote Man of LaMancha, one of the most performed plays in the history of musical theatre. She asked him the meaning of the play’s iconic song, “The Impossible Dream.”  He said, “Impossible is just what it means, a goal that’s not attainable. The power is in the dream, a drive that engenders the person dreaming it–he won’t give up.”

On her publishing journey, Michelle carefully studied literary agents and queried more than twenty before finding representation. She hopes her book inspires people o follow their own dreams.

Michelle Hoffman, authorAbout the Author
Michelle Hoffman is a former arts and entertainment writer for The Arizona Republic. She began formal piano lessons at the age of five and now lives in Arizona with her husband, two spoiled Shih Tzus, and a very large piano.


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“A feel-good story that hits all the right notes.”—Publishers Weekly

“Wild, witty, and bright. This is the novel for anyone who has ever wished they could reinvent their lives. I loved every page.” —Amanda Eyre Ward, New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters

“The heartwarming, feel-good debut of the year.”—J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

“To say I loved it would be an understatement; this was quite unlike anything
I’ve read. The one-liners had me laughing nearly every page, and I found it so moving.”—Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The London SéanceSociety

“Captivates the heart, right from the opening notes . . . thoroughly enjoyable, top-class entertainment.”—Sarah Haywood, New York Times bestselling author of The Cactus