Saturday, January 7, 2017

Favorite Author Found! Catherine Ryan Hyde

As my last post elucidated, I've taken up reading.  One of the first books I downloaded on Kindle Unlimited was Take me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  She has easily become one of my favorite authors in the three books by her I have read.  The other two are When I Found You and Walk me Home.  (And I didn't realize until this moment, she wrote Pay it Forward.  I enjoyed the movie years ago and now I may pick up the book!

There is something about the way she writes that I connect with emotionally.  I often "catch" myself thinking about her characters and their life choices, personalities, and stories.  I can't say that I relate to any individual or story personally, but I develop a fondness for each one and feel like I understand that particular plight a bit better.  Each character seems to be an average person.  He or she may or may not go above and beyond expectations and maybe will only do something extraordinary once or never in their lifetimes.  This leads to realistic narratives and plots, easily to follow and enjoy.

Take me With You starts with a middle-aged widower at a mechanics shop waiting for his RV to be repaired.  August, the widower, ends up bringing the mechanics two young boys with him on his annual National Parks trip with the goal being Yellowstone.  My dad felt it should have ended when he dropped the boys off at the end of the summer with their alcoholic father, but I'm glad it went a bit further.  I needed the ending to cry my happy and sad tears and to feel the story was complete.  I do not care for stories/movies where the ending is left up to the audience's imagination.

Walk me Home is about two tween/teen sisters who attempt to walk from New Mexico to California.  Their mom and her boyfriend are killed in a car accident (murder-suicide, we never find out) and the older sister decides they need to find their mother's ex-boyfriend who was the only other person who ever cared for them.  They stumble onto a fictional Native American reservation where they come face-to-face with a shotgun belonging to an almost blind woman.  I was elated when the younger sister chose to stay with the old woman, they each needed each other and their bond developed organically, unspoken.  The older sister continues her journey to California solo, unable to believe that anywhere else could be home except with her mom's ex boyfriend.  I won't spoil the ending!

When I Found You was my least favorite of the three because it was a difficult read, emotionally.  Don't get me wrong, it was well-written, but every step of the way I wanted the plot to resolve and the characters to find peace.  There was too much toil and turmoil and I felt uneasy while reading, maybe even too much despair as your hopes were constantly dashed by the choices of one of the main character.  The story begins with a childless, introspective tax accountant/duck hunter finding a day-old newborn in the woods.  He asks the police to adopt the child, who ends up with his maternal grandmother.  Although he buys a present for the child every birthday and Christmas, it isn't until the boy reaches his teens that they actually meet.  At 15 the grandmother deposits the boy with "The Man Who Found Him in the Woods," seemingly washing her hands of him.  The accountant tells him that no matter what happens, he'll never wash his hands of him, and he doesn't.  Maybe he should have, far to many times along the way.  It is sticking with me, constantly on my mind.  Could the accountant have done anything any differently?  The grandmother?  The boy's young wife?  His boxing coach?  Fortunately, the "boy" finds a semblance of peace at the end, otherwise I would have been tempted to hate the book!

The beauty of her writing is nothing feels forced, neither dialogue nor circumstance.  I never felt she sat in front of her manuscript wondering what she could write that would get her characters to do x.  Maybe the stories take her to the end with a life of their own, or possibly it all develops naturally for her?  There were a few times when I wished I could shake some sense into the characters, especially in When I Found You, but that's only normal.  In real life I want to shake sense into people more than I care to admit.  Catherine Ryan Hyde continues to give us hope every step of the way, even when everything feels lost.  The hope is in the relationships, not only hoping the individuals with do the right thing or read a self-help book!  She seamlessly connects disparate characters with not just their FOILs, but the person they most need to find personal fulfillment and happiness.

Stay tuned to see what other reading adventures I have!

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