Paperback: 446 pagesGenre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Black Swan Edition July 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: By the time I was seven, I had twenty-two packs of playing cards.
My Opinion: Full of grief and hardship, but still a compelling read.
An author I have always been aware of and interested in her writing, surprisingly though this is only the second of her novels that I have read to date. The other was 'Love in the Present Tense' back in 2008. Now I have rediscovered her writing I will certainly be reading more if I have the opportunity to do so. This novel is full of grief and hardship which made me sad but I still found it a compelling read.
The protagonist of this moving story is fourteen year old Angie, whose life is far from easy. Her father died many years ago and her mother struggles to cope with Angie's younger sister, Sophie who is autistic. Forced to grow up fast, she is the young girl with the grown responsibilities that have been forced upon her. Home never seems to be in one place for long as neighbours find Sophie's shrieking unbearable. It is only when she befriends a neighbour's dog that Sophie seems to calm down. This also gives Angie the opportunity to make a friend of Paul the neighbour and slowly a bond develops between them. The families world is turned upside down though when Paul announces he is retiring and moving away. Much to Angie's humiliation her mother thinks the answer is to move themselves, so that the dog can continue to have a calming influence on Sophie. How an earth will this work out, will Angie and family find somewhere they feel they belong?
I recommend this novel to fans of contemporary fiction and feel that if you enjoy the style of writing of Jodi Picoult, then Catherine Ryan Hyde will probably also appeal.
Catherine was born in 1955 into a family of writers, and grew up in the Buffalo, area of New York, later moving briefly to the city. After graduating early from high school at the age 17, she worked as a dog trainer, a tour guide at Hearst Castle and working in a bakery prior to dedicating herself to become a full-time writer in the early 1990s. Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 16 novels including Pay it Forward (which was made into a feature film starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt), Love in the Present Tense (a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller), Chasing Windmills, When I Found You, Second Hand Heart, The Hardest Part of Love, Don't Let Me Go, and the forthcoming When You Were Older. She currently lives in a very small town in California.
The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.
Twitter Profile Wikipedia - Catherine Ryan Hyde
Goodreads - Author Profile
Catherine Ryan Hyde - Amazon Page Author's Official Website