Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 13, 2016)
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.
“[A] heartwarming tale of transgression and redemption.” --Kirkus Reviews
“A moving story about patience, trust, the families we choose, and the love it takes to let somebody go.” —Booklist
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Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, 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 was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologiesSanta Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. 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.
Ryan Hyde is also 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.
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Dr. Lucy Armstrong lives alone and out of the way on her Texas ranch. She is a licensed doctor, which is rare in 1959, but has long since chosen not to practice in the typical manner. Instead, she takes in animals that have been injured and abandoned. Pete Solomon is a 12 year old boy with a large heart, so when he sees an abandoned, broken dog on the side of the road, he knows he has to help him. When the regular vet refuses to look at the wolf-dog, Pete finds his way to Dr. Lucy. On the long walk with a half-wild, hurt, wolf-dog, Pete runs into Justin. Justin is new in town and the two boys click. Justin is also black, which does not sit well with Pete's abusive father or some other folks in town. When the boys show up at Dr. Lucy's, she finds herself with not only one more animal to care for, but two boys as well. When Dr. Lucy meets Justin's father, Calvin, Dr. Lucy's heart melts. However, the town is not ready for a white woman to be kind to a black man and miscegenation laws are still in place. When the town turns violent against the new little family, Dr. Lucy and Peter must say goodbye to Calvin and Justin.
Catherine Ryan Hyde always delivers so much more in a story than I could ever imagine. I originally wanted to read this story because of the wolf-dog hybrid. Prince is definitely an important part of the story as the force that brought everyone together, but there is so much more offered. Elements of historical fiction, race relations, family, friendship, hope and love are all tied together in this beautiful and unexpected story. Each of the characters is very well developed and amazing in their own way. Pete stole my heart from the very beginning with his compassion and unwavering sense of right vs. wrong. I love how he never gave up on Prince and what he later found in return. Justin and Calvin were the perfect father and son pair; they showed perseverance and grace under pressure. The real transformation is of course with Dr. Lucy. From the beginning I knew her hardness was a facade, but I still enjoyed watching it melt away with the addition of Pete, Justin and Calvin to her newly formed family.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.