A blog dedicated to my opinion on books

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Say Goodbye for Now" by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Title: Say Goodbye for Now
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Year:  2016

Genre(s):  historical fiction, coming-of-age, romantic-ish
Part of a Series: No

Why I read it: Once Upon a Book Club selection

Summary: Set in 1950s Texas, the book tells the story of Pete and Dr. Lucy. She’s a surly doctor who takes care of animals more than people and prefers to live apart from society. He is a young kid living with an abusive and racist father. Their worlds collide when Pete finds an injured dog on the side of the road and manages to transport it to the local vet, who refuses to treat it because it’s really a wolf. A nurse directs Pete to Dr. Lucy and a young black boy, Justin Bell, helps him get the wolf to her. She reveals it is a wolf-dog hybrid and takes care of him.

The next day, Pete finds Justin after he’s been beaten and takes him to Dr. Lucy so she can take care of him. This is how she meets Justin’s father, Calvin. Together, the four of them form a strange little family that is broken apart by the prejudices of the outside world. However, the world is starting to change and they may just get their chance to be happy together one day.

Review: I think I’ll get the more negative aspect of the review out of the way first. Then we can get to the positive. What is the negative? For the most part, it’s the romance.

I’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of “love at first sight.” I prefer romances that develop over time, that dive into the characters’ feelings and make you feel that these two people are in love. I never felt that with Calvin and Lucy. It felt to me like it was just the author insisting they were in love but never really building it. We only get a few conversations with them and we hardly see the letters they exchanged over the years. I’m not entirely sure why I’m supposed to root for them to be together and for the world to overcome it’s prejudices so they could be together. So I hesitate to label it a romance. To me, it isn’t.

The second negative part? It’s the pacing. Everything seems to happen so fast—especially at the end. I get why Ms. Hyde chose to skip several years, but it still felt like it could’ve been time spent developing the romance a bit more.

Look. We circled back to the romance.

Okay, okay. Enough negativity. Let’s go onto the positive.

The relationship between Dr. Lucy and Pete was well done and in a lot of ways, the one that really propelled the story forward. They changed each other’s life and Ms. Hyde portrayed their growths very well. I probably could’ve done with a bit more showing of their characters but it was still good. I also enjoyed the friendship she created between Pete and Justin. It felt like a realistic relationship between two young boys who saw past their differences to see how the were alike. I would’ve loved to see more of them too.

Ms. Hyde also handles the sensitive topic of racism well. She didn’t shy away from how cruel it could be and of the injustices suffered. She showed how frustrating it could be for those who didn’t believe in the racist propaganda and the difference in how a black person would react to the situation vs. a white person. How it affected them differently. She also showed the affect child abuse can have as well with Pete and his father. However, I do wonder if it would’ve been more effective to have Dr. Lucy just take in Justin and deal with everything (except the child abuse) that way.

Bottom line: A good story about the power of family…but maybe not a strong romance.
Sex: Nope

Moonlight Musing

Do you like love at first sight or slow building romances? 

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