Title: Say Goodbye for Now
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre(s): historical fiction, coming-of-age,
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
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
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
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.
Do you like love at first sight or slow building