Fourteen-year-old Angie and her mom are poised at the edge of homelessness...again. The problem is her little sister, Sophie. Sophie has an autism-like disorder and a tendency to shriek. No matter where they live, home never seems to last long. Until they move in with Aunt Vi, across the fence from a huge, black Great Dane who changes everything.
Sophie falls in love immediately and begins to imitate the "inside of the dog", which, fortunately, is a calm place. The shrieking stops. Everybody begins to breathe again. Until Paul Inverness, the dog's grumpy, socially isolated owner, moves to the mountains, and it all begins again. Much to Angie's humiliation, when they're thrown out of Aunt Vi's house, Angie's mom moves the family to the mountains after Paul and his dog. There, despite a 50-year difference in their ages, Angie and Paul form a deep friendship - the only close friendship either has known. Angie is able to talk to him about growing up gay, and Paul trusts Angie with his greatest secret, his one dream.
When the opportunity arrives, Angie decides to risk everything to help Paul's dream come true, even their friendship and her one chance at a real home - the only thing she's dreamed of since her father was killed. A place she can never be thrown out of. A place where she can feel she belongs. By the best-selling author of Don't Let Me Go, When I Found You, and Walk Me Home, Where We Belong is a poignant, heartfelt, and uplifting story about finding your place in the world no matter how impossible it seems.
©2013 Catherine Ryan Hyde (P)2015 Audible Inc.
"Hyde has a sure touch with affairs of the heart." (Publishers Weekly)
"Hyde is a remarkable, insightful storyteller, creating full-bodied characters whose dialogue rings true, with not a word to spare." (Library Journal)
This is in some ways a well-written and powerful book, similar to the author's others. It is a real tearjerker, and were it not for the way the author handles Sophie, the narrator's autistic sister, I would recommend it.
But the treatment of Sophie is so... lazy, ignorant, inhumane? ... that I can't get past it. And regardless of all the nice work on character development for other characters, the way they all interact with Sophie unintentionally turns them all into pretty wretched excuses for human beings.
Basically, all Sophie does in the book is scream. This is seen by the other characters only as a burden on themselves. It causes problems with neighbors. They have to move. Sophie screams, and her family puts in earplugs. She screams until she loses her voice for a day or two, and the family then feels relief at the burden off their minds.
Never in the book do any of the characters question whether their may be a reason or cause for this screaming. Never do they try to communicate. Never in the times when she is not screaming do they try to engage. She screams, and that's a part of their life, or she is quiet, and is like a piece of furniture to them. They are reluctant to put her in an institution, which is supposed to indicate something about them having some feeling for her, some concern for her, but it m makes no sense here... there are no good times at home, there is no time when the sister/mother try to engage with her (except to try to shut her up), there is no indication that her life would be anything but improved in an institution. I don't say this lightly, and don't at all think institutionalization is the way to go in the vast majority of cases - but that's because in the vast majority of cases there would be at least a scrap of benefit, of happy experience, of deeper understanding, among family. Not here.
So, it turns out that Sophie can be calm and peaceful when around the neighbor's dog. During this good period of life when she is calm and peaceful, does anyone try to interact with her or engage with her? No. Does anyone think of getting Sophie a dog? No. Does anyone think that maybe they should find some other activities involving animals that might be good for Sophie? No. Is everyone content just to let Sophie act like a dog, as long as she isn't noisy and thus burdensome to them? Yes. When it's obvious the situation with this dog can't last, does anyone take any steps to address it? No. Again, get a freakin' dog for Sophie, find other situations with dogs/animals, anything? Even a stuffed dog? Doesn't enter anyone's mind.
During the course of this book, Sophie is picked up by a school bus and dropped off daily, for at least three years. What happens there? Does she learn anything? Does she sit there all day and scream? Does she haver any favorite activities that may indicate what would be good for her in the rest of life? Not a single word is said about what happens when Sophie is at school in the entire book. Noone seems to care. She's just out of sight, out of mind. Except when they think about what a burden her screaming is.
All these nice people, learning to love and care for each other, to find their inner humanity and connections, and none can see Sophie as a human being. We're supposed to feel bad about how the mother doesn't really see or understand the narrator. The narrator is able to see under the curmudgeonly exterior, and the curmudgeon to see so well inside the narrator to understand her best self, etc. But none of them even attempt to see Sophie. The only interaction they ever have is to try to get her to shut up. She screams, they want her to shut up. She is quiet, they don't want her to make any sound. In a crucial scene dealing with her future, she is attempting to communicate in a new way (I don't know if the author even intended it to be such) - making new vocalizations and banging a fork - and they scream "SHUT UP" in her face until she goes back to the same old screaming.
In all the catharsis, nothing is resolved for Sophie. No authorial nod is given to the fact that Soiphie - through her relationship with the dog - is the real cause of all the life-changing and coming together and getting into a better place. She's not screaming, so the characters neither hear nor think anything about her.
It is such a horrid, paper-thin, inhumane characterization of Sophie; and the actions of the people around her are so sure to guarantee that Sophie never improves her life or gets treated as a human being that they can't be seen as decent people, and any message the story aims to convey about human connectedness is obliterated. Blech!
Welcome to our group Dakota; welcome to my life Summer, you've made it so much better. Give back to our wounded warriors who gave so much.
After reading a couple of okay to pretty good books by this author I enjoyed her return to a great book immensely. Once again it's about finding family in the the world, when the family you have isn't up to the job. It's the story of a child that stumbles upon and then chooses to act in loco parentis for someone they happen to meet in their life. The actual parent is not so much a bad person as they are a poor parent and thus the child is in need of a real adult in their lives. The author's ability to create a few very likable characters and relationships is good enough that I've listened to six of her audiobooks ranging from good to really good or great and mostly enjoyed listening to very similar stories six times. This one might be the best of the six and at worst is third best. A full five stars for the story of a child who is forced to become an adult far too soon; and the adult who chooses to take on something very close to a parental role. I recommend both this author and this book heartily.
59 year old female school nurse. My husband like to books because we travel quite a bit to visit our elderly parents.
I have read several of Ms. Hyde's books now. I find a recurring theme of poor or absent parenting skills runs through them. I find her topics thought provoking, but am disappointed in her recurring view that poor parenting builds character.
I really enjoyed the relationship in this book between the main character and the "lonely neighbor. Overall I would recommend this book.
This book portrayed a very stable intelligent resourceful teenager that didn't have trust issues, amazingly. Dealing with the issues of poverty, overwhelmed negative thinking adults and autism the author also interjects an unusually gifted and perceptive dog. The result is immersion into a world of competence in the midst of hopelessness. This book had the feel of an amazing hidden upper hand that caused all things to work out for good.
Catherine Ryan Hyde always manages to create the most interesting characters. They pull you into the story and don't let go. I always walk away with new perspectives and life lessons. Sorry to have each book end, yet am most grateful. Thank you!
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
Catherine Ryan Hyde delivers, yet again, a nice, moving, character-driven story that has it's heart-warming moments that you'll love if you're a fan of hers. I am and have read, and listened, to many a book and audiobook with absolute pleasure. But, oh, I dunno, they're starting to miss a few beats. While I enjoyed the characters, there really was very little conflict and plot to drive the story forward, which made it difficult to listen through (this wasn't a cover-to-cover listen by any stretch of the imagination). There are problems, sure, but zippo conflict. And one would think, with the desperation, the devastation that can be wrought by autism spectrum disorder, there would be bouts of chaos, fighting to keep hope sprinkled throughout the story, there actually was not. It was simply a device. Indeed, the girl, Sophie, pretty much disappears from the narrative by the end. Gosh, how convenient.
If you're looking for gut-wrenching, long stretches of going against the odds and crying into a tissue: No, not here.
If you're looking for a few moments of warmth from likable characters who have to sort out a few difficulties as they travel through life: This is for you.
Especially as a Daily Deal or Half-Credit
It took me a long time to finish this listen. I felt somewhat invested and had hoped I would connect somehow with these odd characters. In this story a teenager is running the family and pretty much holding them hostage to what she thinks is right but is so clearly wrong. The narration is wordy and the end oh so predictable. I finished this one just kind of shaking my head and thinking glad I got through it.
Take me with you by the same author.
She is a talented narrator.
I never listen to a book in one sitting. I usually read two or three books at the same time.
Say something about yourself!
Yes. I would take out the political agenda and just tell the story of the girl, her severely autistic sister and her mother. The swearing and the sexual preference did not ring true to the character but felt like a deliberate attempt to normalize her supposed sexual preference.The girl's relationship with the owner of the bookstore came across as a young teen looking up to an intelligent and kind young woman as a mother figure. The part about the girl's supposed feelings towards the older woman didn't fit with the description of their relationship. Some of the conversations between the girl and the older gentleman were disturbing.
It has made me wary to read other books by this author.
I loved the autistic girl's relationship with the neighbor's dog. It was touching how the dog and the girl both seemed to understand each other.
No because it rang false. When I read a book or listen to a book I want to be able to believe the story. This story described a girl with a very hard life but the hints about her sexuality were not supported by her own narrative or her interactions with others.
I would have loved this book if the author had not pushed her political agenda onto her characters. I could see this teenage girl and the retired gentleman as becoming friends but I could not see him talking about his sex life with her. That part seemed highly inappropriate boardering on creepy. Just because someone is a close friend does not mean healthy boundaries are not important.
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