#BookReview: My Name Is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Real World Meets Frequency Meets Bicentennial Man. Long ago, there was a situation I was very tangentially linked to (I was a classmate of the survivor) where a boy witnessed his brother be murdered in front of him via a shotgun blast meant for the boy. In the movie Frequency, my singular favorite scene is near the end when the dad in the 1960s uses his shotgun to blow off the hand of the bad guy and you see the hand wither to nothing in the present day timeline. And in Bicentennial Man, you follow Robert Williams’ robot character as he lives and loves over the course of two centuries. Literally this morning (as I write this), Catherine Ryan Hyde is using her telescope and camera setup to photograph the known universe, or at least the parts of it she can see from her own small slice of Earth.

This book wound up evoking the first three of these for me in that strange place that resides between my ears, and along the way we get a prototypical character-driven Catherine Ryan Hyde novel. It even included a scene that those that know Hyde even via her Facebook page could see playing out in her real life, making it all that much more “real”.

This isn’t an action filled book, it isn’t even really a mystery filled book. This is a solid character driven moving story about two people thrown together in very unlikely circumstances at a particular point in their lives, who turn out to be very rare types of people themselves. It is a powerful yet relatively sedate story very akin to Bicentennial Man itself.

And sometimes, those are exactly the stories we need to hear. Very much recommended.

This review of My Name Is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde was originally written on October 21, 2020.

#BookReview: Brave Girl Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Great Storytelling With Relatable Characters. One of the best things about Hyde’s books is that you know you’re going to get stories of very human characters that are simply trying to do their best with the situations they find themselves in, despite several flaws (both obvious and not). Here we get an all too real story that happens *far* too often (in a part that would be a spoiler to reveal) and often enough that it is a documented event (in the initial conflict) while overtly getting a story of two women just trying to do their best. Hyde does an excellent job of humanizing both the strengths and the weaknesses of most characters, though the secondary characters get a bit less of this and the one-off characters get even less, by their very nature of only being shown once or twice. Still, a truly excellent work that explores at least one idea that is all too real for all too many, yet isn’t discussed much in mainstream fiction. Very much recommended.

This review of Brave Girl Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde was originally written on May 18, 2020.

Featured New Release of the Week: Stay by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This week we look to an excellent tale of coming of age in the summer of 1969 – that only mentions one of the numerous events happening in the US that summer. This week, we’re looking at Stay by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Well, y’all are. This is going up a few days early because I am leaving to meet up with a cruise ship and spend the week in the Caribbean. 😉

This was another strong book from Hyde, with quite a few individual dramas all interconnected via how they intersect with one teenager’s own life. Some school drama, some first romance drama, plenty of familial drama with two different characters impacted by service in Vietnam but also two separate couples having their own difficulties, a black sheep of an entire small town, and more. Overall this story, like so many of Hyde’s, comes down to the power of a caring community – and this is exactly where the book finds its power.

Truly a great story touching many difficult and sensitive topics with an adroitful grace, this is yet another that would work well on the silver screen. Very much recommended.

As always, the Amazon/ Goodreads review:
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This week we look to – surprise, surprise – yet another new to me Lake Union author. This week, we look at Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

This was a very strong tale from someone who clearly knows her stuff as it relates to the world of show horses. The overall plot, of a girl trying to save her horse while dealing with the sudden death of her mother, is compelling and well executed in its many layers and moving parts. Not only does the girl harbor a secret, but even the woman who has taken her in on this adventure to save her horse has secrets of her own. As does the girl’s grandmother, currently her legal guardian. All of these secrets come to light, and the story arcs of each of these ladies revolve around slightly different yet complementary themes.

The singular drawback to this book is one that can be worked around, but is a frequent stumbling block: Hyde truly knows her stuff regarding dressage (show horses), and it seems to come from a lifetime of living that particular life. If this level of technical knowledge and attention to detail shown in the book was the result of studying the topic just to write the book using it, I would highly recommend asking for her sources if you are interested in learning this particular subject yourself. The best comparison I can use from my own reading history is a book I read many years ago, but which is somewhat infamous for the very scene I mention here: Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears and its page upon page upon page upon page description of… the first few nanoseconds of a nuclear detonation. While Hyde is much more conversational with her use of the various terms – and fortunately uses a primary character who doesn’t know this world herself as a way of explaining it to the reader, which is arguably one of her best decisions as far as the actual craft of storytelling for this particular story goes.

Overall yet another very strong Lake Union book, and yet another author to add to the ever growing list of authors to keep up with.

And guess what we end with? The Goodreads/ Amazon review! 😀
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