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SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW: Another Wonderful Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Catherine Ryan Hyde is a master storyteller- SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is proof that her stories get better and better, all 30 of them.  She has over 50 short stories in major publications and awards upon awards for her artful writing.    I have had the good fortune of reading and reviewing three of her most recent novels within the past year.   Most people would recognize Catherine Ryan Hyde by her magnificently successful story PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a very successful movie staring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey.  Her writing is often cast as Young Adult, but I cannot think of a single adult I know who would not enjoy these coming of age stories and the look at adults though youthful experience and questions.

Most of Hyde’s stories seem to include horses, dogs and adventures that problem-solve and add meaning.  The adults in her stories make a number of discoveries that are life changing for them also.  The main characters often have high levels of responsibility and are cast in a lonely position, which clarifies their situation and allows the characters to get what they need to recover or grow.

Pete does not know that his father is psychologically and physically abusive because it seems to him that all the fathers that are in his community are so inclined.  His father is just going way beyond in his abuse and making Pete’s life impossible for success or sitting down after the whippings.   Pete is trying so hard to do the right thing and find favor and love from his only remaining parent.  He feels responsible for helping a dog that has been hit by a car which costs him a friend and delivers him a new friend and several adults that he can trust.

The story begins in 1959 when Pete is 12-years-old and beginning summer vacation from school.  His father has been injured on the job and is home on Workman’s Compensation and maybe abusing the pain medications and certainly alcohol.

Dr. Lucy is a physician who lost her son to pneumonia during a painful divorce. Dr. Lucy now rescues racehorses, which are not fast enough and dogs that no one wants any more.  She lives alone in the countryside in a house given to her by her father.  She has closed herself off from the community as this Texas community has made being a practicing female doctor an impossibility in 1959.  The community is extremely closed minded.   Here is where the story adds being against “Negros” and the hostile environment that is created.  The Doctor and Justin, Pete’s new friend, have very different value programing than what Pete has experienced in his life, and yet there is an attraction and the resonation of the new values within Pete.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW has many levels of discovery and very well written dialogue. The adults must explain many things from the meaning of words to telling the truth in a protective manner.

I would read this book again.  It made me think about current hatred and racism being expressed in our culture at this time.  I made me think about how one brings about new thinking and acceptance of others; it maybe only through one person at a time.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is an excellent read, and I have purchased a copy for the son of my new neighbor.

A TLC Book Tours review book.

Related:
Leaving Blythe River
The Language of Hoofbeats

REMEMBER MY BEAUTIES: A Novel ~Lynne Hugo

Monday, July 25th, 2016

TLC Book Tours   sent me this e book for review. It was an advanced readers copy and as I have read another of Lynne Hugo’s books and I know they were well edited, I believe this copy needs some more editing; not the usual for this author who truly does her research and homework.  The story is good and interesting and the two awkward jumps in the story were disconcerting.

So many stories of drug and alcohol problems are centered on the middle class and educated families.  This story was center on a southern rural family on the lower edge of the middle class and rough around the edges. Their language skills were so poor they could not articulate or move their problems forward and they became stuck in a cycle of blame and negativity – a rather vicious barrier.  The middle child Jewel is their only asset and she is working herself to the bone trying to keep her house, get her child off drugs and into the future, keep her blind father and ill mother clean and cared for and work her own job.   Jewel is verbally abused by her family and is exhausted and not appreciated by her husband or his teenage children. Life is too much.  Her older alcoholic, druggie brother drifts home and Jewel goes on strike.

What keeps Jewel functioning and holding on is her horse and her father’s three horses.  She sneaks onto the property to care for her Beauties and exercise them. The several sections of the story that are the horses’ thoughts are quite wonderful. The horses are the key to reconciliation and to the family’s future.  There is hope and there is a possibility to teach new tricks and ideas, when Jewel takes her firm stand.

People don’t know what they don’t know.  They did not understand other options and truly needed the wisdom of teachers and counselors with a bigger worldview and an ability to problem-solve.  There appears to be many, many people like this in the southern regions of the USA, but also in the rural regions of many states.  If it were not for the horses and their love the cycle would not have been broken.  It was not a very wide rift, the family would need more tears in the fabric of their lives in order to fully communicate and see the need for more language skills to create a more solid future.  This story emphasizes the ways people are isolated, separated and forgotten in our society.  An interesting read overall and needs a good discussion to go with it.

About the author:

“Lynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriever” (TLC page)

Lynne Hugo Website
Lynne Hugo Facebook
Lynne Hugo Twitter

Related:
Liar
If You Leave Can I Come With You?
Memory Card Full

THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS: a Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

“And that, I realized, is the worst price we pay for living in a dearth of true communication.  We go through our whole lives thinking it’s only us.  And that has to be the deepest, most bone-chilling definition of the word ‘alone’.  You can have a crowd around you, a circus, but they can’t spare you from that brand of loneliness.” (from location 92%)

From Amazon the story description:

“From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.“

This is one of the nicest stories of family bonding I think I have ever read.  I believe readers from middle school to 100 would enjoy this story.  For me it has a special appeal of an adoptive/fostering family finding their connections and working through the hard stuff – finally together.  The ending was not as comfortable as one would imagine in a traditional story, and yet it was finding a happiness which shined forth. I liked how the difficult neighbor assisted everyone in finding their own voice and not being afraid to say, “I don’t like this.”  Lots of learning to problem solve and communication happening in the LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS.

I received an advanced unproofed, uncorrected copy of this book from TLC Booktours  for review and I feel it was a privilege to be able to share this story with you.  I am grateful for the opportunity and think this would make a lovely gift.  I curled right up on a 19’F sunny morning and read it beginning to end and I will add it to my Holiday reading shelf.  THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS is a gem.

Know any teenagers who are moody?   Know someone who needs a happy ending? Concerned about children and their welfare?  Have a troublesome neighbor? Need a sense of belonging?   I do recommend THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS

Here’s what it says about the author at the end of my e-read:

“Catherine Ryan Hyde is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels, including the 1999 smash hit PAY IT FORWARD, which has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and was made into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment.  In addition to her novels, Hyde is the author of more than fifty short stories and is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation.  During her years as a professional public speaker, she addressed the National Conference on Education, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with President Bill Clinton.”

Catherine Ryan Hyde Website
Catherine Ryan Hyde Blog
Catherine Ryan Hyde Twitter
Catherine Ryan Hyde Facebook

I just wanted to tell you every detail of the story – but I hate reading reviews that spoil or tell too much.

Related:
The Pact
The Dragon’s Pawn
The Sowing
ANTS or Automatic Negative Thinking

A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS: Stories ~Victoria Fish

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

“Victoria Fish casts a spell so subtle and sure it could only be the work of a master storyteller.  It is this talented writer’s special gift to be able to unmask everyday reality to its essence and surprise us with the familiar.  In rendering the struggles of ordinary people – suburban moms and military vets and disdained little sisters – she illuminated the stuff that makes us human.”  Sara Tucker (from cover)

A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS is a gathering of short stories which expose events in ordinary lives which are profound relationship reveals.  The writing is full of momentary details that make the location alive and the communications vital and often exquisite in the compactness of their expression. I read each of the 11 stories twice in a row and I highlighted 29 quotes which touched me deeply.  I was not awake all night trying to find resolution because these stories are complete; they are just about a snapshot moment.

I am giving this book to four people for birthday gifts in October and November because it is the nicest group of well – written words I can expect to share as we retreat into our winter mode with gentle prose.

Chapter Titles:

  • Where Do You Find a Turtle with No Legs?
  • A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS
  • The Sari
  • Green Line
  • Unleashed
  • What Is the Color Blue?
  • Sanctuary Therapy
  • The Last and Kindest Thing
  • Phantom Pain
  • The Voice at the End of the Line
  • Between the Dream and Here

“She remembers putting four rolls of Wintergreen Lifesavers in her pocket and quietly climbing up the stairs and over the green shag carpeting to the kids’ bathroom when she was not much older than he.  She’d heard that they sparkled fluorescently if you chewed them with your mouth open in the dark.  In the bathroom, she turned out the light and pulled the curtains her mother made against the late summer light.  How wonderful it would be to see lights and sparkles coming out of her.  She’d stood in front of the mirror in the pitch dark and did it over and over until her mother called her for dinner.” (Page 59)

TLC Book Tours  and Mayapple Press  sent me a copy of this delightful book to review.  It was pure pleasure.  A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS.

Victoria Fish writes many short stories which have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Hunger Mountain, Slow Trains, Wild River Review, and Literary Mama. She is currently working on a Master of Social Work degree. She lives with her husband and three boys in the hills of Vermont.  A BRIEF MOMENT OF WEIGHTLESSNESS is her first book and it is sublime.

http://www.vickyfish.com/  

“Going to the hospital reminds me of flying: if you dress up, you have a better chance of being bumped to first class.  You get more respect.”  (Page 83)

Related:
Incendiary Girls
The Sense of Touch
Our Love Could Light the World
The Moon Sisters