Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Published: May 21, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Review copy from the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description: Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to. (publisher)

My take:  On the day that seventeen-year-old Raymond’s closest (and only) friend moves to California he meets Mrs. Gutermann in the hallway of their New York apartment building. She’s in her nineties and is blind. She’s been waiting for the man who helps her with errands, etc. for several weeks. He doesn’t answer his phone and she’s worried. She asks anyone who passes her in the building if they’ve seen Luis Velez. One thing leads to another and Raymond finds himself on a quest to find out what happened to Luis. Along the way he’ll find a new friend or two – especially in Mrs. G.  I loved their relationship – how it grew and the impact it had on both of them. Truly special. They have things to learn from each other. On a larger scale I liked how the novel (and all of the books I’ve read by this author) makes the point that if people would act out of kindness and empathy the world would be a better place. I’m so glad I had the chance to read this book.

There are discussion questions included.


About the author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow Book List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories, California Shorts, and New York Times bestseller Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories. She is the founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, spoken at Cornell University twice, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at http://www.catherineryanhyde.com.


 

Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Review copy courtesy of Lake Union and Little Bird Publicity

Lake Union Publishing | June 19, 2018
Paperback: $14.95 | ISBN: 978-1503900394
eBook: $4.99 | ASIN: B076KYS66K

Description: Roseanna Chaldecott wants just one thing: peace and quiet. After the sudden loss of her lifelong best friend and law partner, Roseanna abandons her cushy yet unfulfilling life as a New York City lawyer and drives into the countryside without a firm destination in mind. As the car is just about out of gas, she stumbles upon the place she didn’t even know she was looking for: a tiny
house on a beautiful patch of green, tucked away in the hills, with a “For Sale” sign out front. Not a few hours later, Roseanna is the proud owner of this little slice of paradise and committed to a new
life away from the city.
But in HEAVEN ADJACENT (Lake Union Publishing; on sale June 19th, 2018), there’s a catch: Roseanna isn’t the only person enamored by her peaceful hideaway. On the first night in her new
abode she meets Patty and her five-year-old daughter Willa, who’ve been living on the property and can’t afford their own place. Soon others start traveling through, and as Roseanna explains why she exchanged her comfortable lifestyle for the simplicity of a shack in the woods, a few passersby become additional squatters interrupting her silence and solitude. Though she is adamant their days on the property are numbered, she reluctantly lets them stay.
Back in Manhattan, no one knows Roseanna’s whereabouts for months, not even her remaining ex-law partner, Jerry, or her estranged son, Lance. But after the New York Times runs an article about
Roseanna and the peculiar array of metal sculptures she’s created, Lance arrives to convince her to return home—and Jerry threatens her with a hefty lawsuit for abandoning the firm. As she comes to grips with the possibility of losing everything, Roseanna begins to ask herself what—and who—matters the most to her, and whether the isolation she yearned for is truly the cornerstone of her next chapter in life.
The author of more than 30 books, including the critically-acclaimed novel Pay It Forward, Catherine Ryan Hyde presents readers with a middle-aged woman who still has a lot to learn about who she really is, and a cast of characters who chip away at the hard exterior she’s built up over the hectic life that’s passed her by. As Roseanna beings to accept a new reality free of material wealth, she discovers that she is rich in something that can’t be replaced: family. HEAVEN ADJACENT is a novel about realizing life is too short to put off happiness, and that shows the people we celebrate each day with should make us the most joyful of all. (publisher)

My take:  Roseanna’s approach to work was do it for as long as it took to ensure she could retire at some point and enjoy a comfortable life. When her best friend who held the same mindset suddenly died Roseanna made a change that bewildered her coworkers, family and even herself.

This is a story about resetting one’s priorities. Filled with quirky characters who were part of Roseanna’s new life this novel made me chuckle at times and it made me think about the possibilities that are always around us – but are we brave enough to consider making changes. I really enjoyed it. It’s the third of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novels I’ve read and, just like the previous ones, it left me with a warm feeling and very happy to have read it. Recommended.


About the author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 33 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It
Forward, was adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture, made the American Library
Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list, and has been translated into more than two dozen
languages in 30 countries. More than 50 of her short stories have been published in journals, and her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.
Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation.


 

The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  • Title:  The Wake Up
  • Author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  322
  • Published:  December 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family. (publisher)

My take:   The Wake Up is a lovely story about family – mostly about a boy and a man both damaged by circumstances out of their control. The setting is a small California cattle ranch where horses are also raised. This novel is full of emotions and people learning how to give others and themselves room to grow. It’s about forgiveness – of oneself and others. The theme of empathy runs through it all. As I turned the last page I felt hopeful and very glad to have started the year with such a good novel.


 

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  • Title:  Allie and Bea
  • Author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  350
  • Pub. date:  May 23, 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher; Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.  (publisher)

My take:  Allie and Bea is the story of two unlikely traveling companions. Allie is a teenager on the run and Bea is a seventy-something widow who recently lost everything except her van and a few other items. When their paths cross the two form an uneasy alliance as they set off on a road trip that will be full of lessons neither expected to learn.

I found Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing style so comfortable to read. I was invested in the characters and their plight. I liked how they challenged themselves and each other to persevere in such dire circumstances. Even though they experienced some daunting events it was an uplifting read for me. Bea found that change wasn’t necessarily a negative thing and Allie learned that the world isn’t as black and white as she’d thought. A new perspective could create appreciation for even the most basic things. It’s a lovely novel that I recommend to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


About the author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-two published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts as well as the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.