From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a moving novel about two strangers who find that kindness is a powerful antidote to fear.
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.
A beautifully written tale of life and friendship, a story that while entertained it taught life lessons and made me ponder current issues from racial profiling to gun violence and the importance of a community that will support each other.
I love how the author often in her stories matches two unlikely people who will find the common ground, while gently teaching the readers the important lesson of not looking at the surface, not judging by the appearance of people, but looking beyond the obvious and behind the walls and categories the society often likes to hide us.
There is so much heart in this story, in the friendship between Raymond Jaffe and Mildred Gutermann, in Raymond's search for the correct Luis Velez.
I loved how Raymond's encounters with the different Luis Velez named men affected the people he met and inspired them to do good, be better, spread the love. There is something special about Raymond, the way just his presence, and even more so his attitude and good heart made an impact on his environment. He himself might think he is invisible, unfitting to the norm, to his family, to his school, to his father's life, but most people he meets he makes a positive impression on.
I cherished the friendship forming between Raymond and Millie, despite their differences or maybe because of them, they have one of those rare yet so precious friendships where people grow and learn from each other in an atmosphere of respect and love. They both have equal value in the relationship, they both learn from each other, and they help the other to find the peace of mind that helps them accept life, themselves, their past, and the possibilities still a front of them.
Ms. Hyde has left me in awe yet another of her books. She has a true gift to take the most sensitive yet topical issues, twine them into a storyline, demonstrating two sides to each matter, making the readers to think, evaluating their own beliefs and habits and culture, while gaining some understanding to both sides of the matter, and maybe learn to make better judgement calls or to see a bit wider horizon.
This is a story for everyone, regardless of age or gender. It touches the hearts and minds of the readers, giving them a raw and real picture of today's society. It entertains, it teaches valuable lessons, it connects on an emotional and on an intellectual level, it challenges the values, ideas, and the culture we live in while telling a heartfelt tale two people supporting each other through some heartache and loneliness while helping each other to be the best possible version of themselves. Another home run from the author, whose books somehow manage to shatter my mind and heart yet leave me having a better, wider understanding of the world we live in.
A must read
~ Five Spoons!
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 30 published and forthcoming books, including THE WAKE UP, ALLIE AND BEA, SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW, LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER, ASK HIM WHY, WORTHY, THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS, TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHEN I FOUND YOU, WALK ME HOME, and DON'T LET ME GO.
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.