Cambridge-based novelist ALICE HOFFMAN s one of those deeply psychological writers who we depend on to bore into the individual minds of an ill-fated family. Once there, she unearths the sort of romantic desperation and weird, mystical secrets that most households would do anything to keep hidden. For her 19th novel to date, Skylight Confessions, Hoffman focuses on just how much an event of complete randomness can determine one’s fate. At 17, Arlyn Singer decides she’ll marry the next man who walks down the street. Too bad it results in a completely screwed up union, a physical (but not spiritual) death, and several dysfunctional kids raised in a creepy Connecticut house called The Glass Slipper. Court destiny when Hoffman reads and signs at Newtonville Books, 296 Walnut St, Newton | Jan 16 @ 7 pm | free | 617.244.6619 and at the Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | Jan 17 @ 7 pm | free | 617.566.6660.