Allie and Bea have both lost everything. Now they have nothing to lose.
Allie and Bea
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
International bestselling author of 32 novels, including Pay It Forward,
Leaving the Blythe River, and Say Goodbye For Now
Published May 23, 2017
Bea is an older woman who relies on monthly Social Security checks to pay her mounting bills—and even with these, she’s just barely scraping by. Allie is a California teenager who has only ever known a life of privilege and luxury. Their lives could not be more different, but after Bea falls victim to a telephone scam (the realization of so many financially precarious people’s greatest fears) and Allie’s parents are arrested for tax fraud, they both find themselves on the run, without a penny to their names or a place to sleep at night. Their worlds collide when Allie, having escaped her state-mandated group home, hitches a ride with Bea in her van-turned-mobile home, and the unlikely pair embarks on a life-changing journey along the Pacific coast.
From New York Times bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde, ALLIE AND BEA (Lake Union Publishing; On-sale May 23, 2017) is a cross-generational story about two women and their struggle for survival and search for a place to call home.
Together, Allie and Bea must learn how to survive from dollar to dollar, gas station to gas station, sometimes paying for food and supplies through the generosity of others and sometimes through
less moral methods. As they make their way to the coast, they are forced to wrestle with questions of right and wrong, their unspoken desire for family and people they can count on, and their growing attachment to each other. Throughout their unconventional road trip, Allie and Bea also discover the freedom and fearlessness that come from losing everything. It is only when their lives are stripped down to the bare essentials that they gain the courage to take risks and the wisdom to understand the intangible things that matter most in life.The author of more than 30 books, including the critically-acclaimed novel Pay It Forward, Catherine Ryan Hyde challenges readers to confront the meaning of family, to consider the role we can and should play in each other’s lives, and above all, to look for the silver lining in the darkest of moments. ALLIE AND BEA is a novel that proves you’re never too old to start over, you’re never too young to give back, and the worst thing in the world may just be the thing that saves you.
When I was offered Allie and Bea to read for a review I didn't hesitate for a minute. Pay It Forward, the author's previous book, changed my life, and how I look at life, and to have the chance to be part of this virtual tour for Allie and Bea is an honor that I humbly accepted.
And the journey Allie and Bea take, both mentally and physically, astonished me with the realistic and sober look at life, and how easy it is to shatter the frames of the life we live, rarely with a little care or thought for tomorrow.
This is not one of those stories that you read through one night, write a review, and move on with your life. To fully grasp the life-changing potential of the story, I needed to let it sit for a little while, and ponder about it.
The blurb sets the scene for the story in an excellent way. Both Allie and Bea end up homeless, living together in a van, depending on each other to survive. Either of them is fully responsible for their own predicament, how their lives end being what it is today. But they don't have the luxury of blaming others or share the responsibility with someone else. They are on their own and often at the mercy of the strangers that they meet during their journey.
The story mesmerized my mind, it was not possible to stay as an observer looking at these two women at the opposite stages of life, trying to make it for one more day. The author dissect the human nature in a brilliant way, showing how easy it is to slip from the main flow of life, and how fast your morals, your ethics, your sense of right and wrong changes, when it comes to your own survival, when you are hungry, penniless, and in a need of place to sleep. When your basic needs have not been met the compromises can come effortlessly.
The 'truths' we often take as a necessity, because that's just how things are, are put into a question in the story and shown in a new light. The way most people look at homelessness, and people living off from their cars, change because, in reality, they are just like you and me. How fragile is our lifestyle? How secure are we with our financial situation? How many hits can my own economy take before I'm living on the streets? It doesn't necessarily take a storm to blow away the house of cards we have built, the privileges we take as self-evident rights.
Every person Allie and Bea meet end up making an impact on them, whether a good or bad. Sometimes it is an act of kindness that makes a change to their desired destination, sometimes just a word that makes them reflect on their own actions. I was left wondering how little it can take from me, in my interactions with others, to actually make a life-changing difference to someone else. Be careful what you say or do, you never know what kind of ripple effect it has on your environment and the world at large.
Both Allie and Bea change and grow as human beings and women through their time together. They share their lives, their life stories, their hopes, and their disappointments. Allie and Bea decide to look at their trip as an adventure, something positive and exciting to look forward to, instead of an escape from the realities they left behind, to that place where home used to be.
Until it comes the time to face it all again.
Allie and Bea is a beautiful story of survival, friendship, and kindred hearts. It is an honest and raw look at the human mind, the fragility of the western lifestyle and the standards we have created over the years and decades. It is an adventure of a mind and an experience that can make you take a new, fresh look at your life if your heart is open to it and to the change it can generate. It is a story that upon finishing it I immediately texted my sister and said 'you need to check this book out' because I wanted to share the transformative effect it had on me.
It is an epic story that I want to keep reading again, just to remind myself not to take anything for granted and to be kind to strangers. I want to keep the spirit of Allie and Bea's story alive in my heart, just like Pay It Forward still has an effect in my daily actions and decisions.
~ Five Spoons
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 32 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, was 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 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. 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.
MY GRADING SCALE:
5 Spoons - Amazing, memorable story that I loved and want to read again. The best of the best and not given lightly
4 Spoons - Fantastic, entertaining story that I enjoyed and connected with and will gladly recommend to readers
3 Spoons - A good story, not much that stood out but I was engaged enough to spend the time to read it through
2 Spoons - A story with some issues, that were a problem to me
1 Spoon - Not for me