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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

MY SWEET VIDALIA: A Novel ~Deborah Mantella

Monday, February 1st, 2016

With a character name like Vidalia, I knew I was reading a Southern novel and so I prepared for some fairly scary scenes and painful moments.   MY SWEET VIDALIA was the retelling of a classic Southern scenario of poverty; racism and ignorance with a few bright and optimistic characters that kept the book moving forward and offered some relief from the negative environment of the 1950s.

The writing was very good and the dialect was well captured.  I was glad that the book did not drag out into epic dimensions and Vidalia did find a redemptive quality in the end of the story to express and to prove herself to be compassionate and not so “dumb” as her background would lead you to believe.  Her capacity to grow and develop kept me reading all the way through.  Whew!  That was a relief.

I liked the story and felt the discomfort of being outside the events and not being able to cajole or persuade Vidalia to move on and let go of her trials.  How does one move someone out of such ignorance when they do not know any better?  In the beginning of the story, young Vidalia falls in love with a slimy fellow who plays on her naiveté, then marries her when she becomes pregnant and beats her growing baby out of her womb too early for survival.   Vidalia finds a way to keep her baby with her through the whole story and this “spirit child” becomes her support system.

On the cover of the book Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife says
“ From its beautiful first words to its satisfying ending, MY SWEET VIDALIA is a unique, enchanting read.     Exquisite language, a cast of robust characters, and a solid and compelling plot keep readers captivated as Mantella straddles the thin line between poetry and prose, reality and either, fragility and strength.  With a deft and gentle hand, she navigates us through the travails of an impoverished young mother guided by her intrepid spirit child.”

I would place this story high up on the scale of good reads and a great weekend of escape reading, which took me back to my school days in the Deep South.  It was still a relief to leave these characters back in the 1950s and early 60s and find comfort in my more progressive environment of home.   I worked as a social worker in the South in the 70s and 80s and I am hard pressed to even think about returning for a visit.  I am sure my experiences prejudiced my reading of this story.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this well-written story for review.

From the cover:
“A transplant to the South, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and the Midwest.  Now a resident of Georgia she lives outside Atlanta with her husband.  Mantella is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, the Author’s Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators.  This is her first novel.”

Deborah Mantella Website
Deborah Mantella Facebook

Related:
The Wonder of All Things
The Mapmaker’s Children
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
Flight Behavior

TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS: A Novel ~Sejal Badani

Monday, May 4th, 2015

“Never depend on another person for your happiness.  If someone had the authority to give, then he or she had the authority to take away.” (location 142)

I did not know what to expect from the book TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS.    I knew it was an immigration story and a debut novel but did not know much more.  I am often tempted to read the book descriptions sent by the publishers for advanced reading copies of books; I resisted and just dove into reading the story.  TLC Book Tours sent me a copy for review.

Three sister’s elegantly tell their stories of their lives in the USA after their family moves from India as an opportunity for daughters to achieve success and excel for the family when there are no sons.  Their father was successful and kind in India but he who was an engineer in his home country now can only get work in a tire store and experiences great racism and difficult circumstances.  He is driven to control his daughters and wife to the point of verbal and physical abuse.  He is in a coma and the family is forced to look at their lives and the shame they feel; the sad and unhappy outcomes of their lives.   A family story emerges as the family secrets are confronted by the violence exposed and events manifesting in their contemporary lives.

What blooms in the family tree as the family progresses and what changes in the patterns, so that history may not repeat itself? Can destructive behavior ever manifest real or solid success and provide growth and change for communication and allow love to emerge?

The telling of Sonja, Trisha, and Marin’s stories opens up the reader to explore what was expected of them from their own families and fathers.  How does original enculturation interfere or enhance a huge change in structures and systems and how does it breakdown the basic traits and expectations?  What are the freedoms that are attached to this change and could it be thought of as a good concept.  TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS will challenge one’s thinking and expectations.

I highly recommend TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS for those who like family dynamics, secrets revealed and want a story to end with hope for the future.

I was interested to see that Amazon already had 547  4+ reviews for this debut novel.

Sejal Badani is a former attorney.  She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their 2 dogs.

Sejal Badani Facebook 

Related:
Playing St. Barbara 
The Clover House 
The Last Conception 
The Isolation Door