Say Goodbye For Now ~ By Catherine Ryan Hyde

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

I’ll be honest with you: when I opened the email from BookSparks about this book, I didn’t recognize the name “Catherine Ryan Hyde”, but I liked the cover and the synopsis so I requested a copy.  While waiting for my arc to arrive, I visited Catherine’s website and social media pages and realized I’ve been living under a rock; this is the same woman who wrote the book that inspired the movie “Pay It Forward” (as you may have guessed, I saw the movie, but didn’t read the book).   By the time my copy arrived I was chomping at the bit to read Say Goodbye For Now.

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So many tabs!

How can I express my reaction to this book in as succinct a statement as possible?  “Holy cats Batman!”  This book is absolutely amazing.  It’s a character-driven story, and they are so fleshed out that it feels like you are experiencing everything as it happens to them.  The narration alternates between Lucy and Pete, and this back and forth of perspectives really helps to round out the story.  I’m from a much more recent generation, so I haven’t experienced the types of societal norms and expectations that are the foundation of this story, and sometimes I notice that this lack of experience leads me to feel a disconnect with the story and characters of historical fiction.  But let me tell you, I felt every emotion from every experience that Lucy, Pete, Calvin, and Justin went through, and I could’ve sworn that I had time-traveled back to Texas in 1959.  I was happy, I was sad, I was angry, I was excited, I was terrified, I was heartbroken. . . I felt all of it.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, read this book.  If you’re a fan of character-driven stories, read this book.  If you’re a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde, read this book.  If you like to read, read this book!    You can buy it here Amazon or here Barnes & Noble.

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I bought the books.

I was so completely taken with this story that I jumped online and ordered four more of her books before I had even finished it.  I have a CRH binge scheduled within the next month.  Anyone else want to join me?

 

I reached out to Catherine and asked if she would be willing to answer a handful of questions.  I always enjoy hearing from the author of a book that I love; I love the insight into the person behind the words as well as learning about what brought a particular story to the world.  Catherine was gracious enough to satiate my curiosity, and now I get to share her responses with you.

Where did you find the inspiration for Say Goodbye For Now?
That’s always a hard question. My train of thought is notoriously hard to follow. But I’ve been very aware lately, as I think we all have, of the effect racism has on our society. I think I’ve gained a heightened awareness since the advent of the smartphone video camera. I knew it was bad, but I’m not sure I knew it was that bad. (Still.) And a novel is what I do when a problem is weighing on me. Like everybody else, I’m not sure what I, personally, can do to help. So I write a novel about it—not because I think that will fix it, but because I hope it will get people thinking and talking about the problem with me.
Your characters are very wise and cognizant to humankind’s flaws and shortcomings, yet they seem to have a very strong desire to do and be good.  For readers who have not yet read your other books, is this typical of the characters in all of your books?
I think it is. I think it’s a theme that runs through most everything I write. I like to explore what our responsibility is to each other. Most of us draw a line between ourselves and others. If the “other” is a beloved family member, the line will be drawn very close to us. If it’s a stranger, we may feel we owe them nothing. But I’m fascinated by people who cross those lines just because they can, and because their help is needed. I think it’s natural to help someone in need if we can. I think it’s something we unlearn as we grow. Something we tamp down. And I think it can reawaken unexpectedly. As a novelist, I just love those human moments.
In regards to your writing process, do your characters drive your stories, or do you plan and map out where your story will go before you begin writing?
I definitely start with a character. As far as planning and mapping, it’s something I do in my head, and very much by feel. I don’t like to overplan. I liken it to a multi-day car trip. You have to know where you want to end up, or you risk going nowhere. And it pays to know what roads will get you there. But if you map it out too carefully—plan to drive exactly eight hours and stop at a certain motel—you’ll blow right by the Carlsbad Caverns or the giant meteor crater because it’s not in your plan. I try to leave space in the middle of the story for growth. That’s where I tend to find opportunities I never could have imagined when the story started.
What are you reading right now?  Can you offer some book recommendations for the readers?
Right now I am on a nonfiction binge. Sometimes I do that because it interferes less with my own work in progress. The last fiction I read was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and before that A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I really liked both of those. I’ve started half a dozen other novels in the last month or two that I did not finish. Life is too short.

 

About the author (from BookSparks):

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the bestselling author of twenty-seven published and forthcoming books. Some of her recent books include The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me with You, Where We Belong, and Don’t Let Me Go. Her short stories have been published in Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun. She has received numerous awards, including the Rainbow Award and the British Book Award. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture and translated into twenty-three languages. Hyde is the founder of the Pay It Forward Foundation.

Catherine’s websiteFacebookTwitter

 

Thanks to BookSparks for providing me with an advanced copy of the book for review, and thanks to Catherine Ryan Hyde for graciously responding to my email.

~Amber

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