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5.0 out of 5 starsA book worth reading
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2017
Leonard is a vision-impaired little boy whose teenage, single mother disappears unexplainably when he is around 4 yrs. old. In those short years she was with him, she taught Leonard "forever love." This is when you love someone so much that no matter what happens it never changes and is always with you. This love is the rock that sustains Leonard throughout the challenges of his life and what ultimately saves him. The story of Leonard and what really happened to his mother is touching, sad, and beautiful. There are many thought-provoking themes such as the nature of love, justice, hate, forgiveness. I highly recommend this book.
5.0 out of 5 starsKeep reading, it gets better and better
Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2014
Honestly, when I first started reading the Kindle sample, I was pretty sure I wouldn't end up buying the full book. But this one got under my skin. Pearl is 13 when she accidentally kills the policeman who has just raped her. She bears a child, born prematurely with multiple health issues. Pearl loves her son and manages to take care of him as best she can in spite of her dire financial straits. One day, however, she asks her neighbor, Mitch, if he can watch the boy while she works, only to never return. Mitch finds himself beguiled by the boy, Leonard, and at that, I was hooked. Each chapter is told in the first person of the particular character, giving the reader an unusual perspective into the psyches of these fascinating people. I have read several of Ms. Hyde's novels and, while some are better than others, they never totally disappoint.
I found this book to hold a deep and abiding understanding of human nature, beautifully expressed. Using alternating voices to move the story along allows insight into the way each character handles emotional aspects, and gives a cross-view of the situation at the time, as each person sees and interprets the same situation in different ways. I take great pleasure in recommending this book, and am looking forward to reading more of Ms Hyde's novels.
Loved the characters in this beautifully written story. Well crafted, interwoven search to find oneself in history without knowing the details. Not feeling like you fit in anywhere yet your emotional connections give you purpose. A story I will remember.
I never am disappointed with Catherine Hyde's novels. I am sad to think of what I'll read after I am finished with all of them. Her novels are unique in that I can never predict what's going to happen next. Her stories uplift and show the loving side of humanity. That reaching out with love and caring makes a difference in the world, as scary as that is. This book touched my heart.. She has written such heartfelt characters. The depth of love the mother has for her son, and the reaching out and caring of Mitch, a young man who has compassion and an open heart. She can take you into their world with their thoughts, feelings with such an intimacy, the characters become real. I recommend it highly.
5.0 out of 5 starsVery touching,softly beautiful, realistic story
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2014
The author made me believe that I know the main characters intimately. They became real to me. I loved them, especially Leonard & Mitch. I completely understood their motivation and their actions. It's an excellent novel that can leave the reader feeling like she'll miss the characters in the story, because they have been real to her. And, as an adoptive mother, I appreciated how accurately and tenderly that issue was handled by the author. Also, the writing style never became predictable, cliched, draggy, or cloying. I love how her characters are imperfect, but still good people. This truth had me thinking about people in my own life, and seeing them in a new light. And THAT is one thing that makes a book not just good, but excellent.
I finished this book today, and can only say, 'Wow'. Catherine Ryan Hyde is a wonderful writer. Makes you think. Makes you wonder. Makes you see yourself in her words. But in the end she answers all the questions you had while reading. This story showed what love is. How it can not be mistaken for anything else that imitates love. In reading this particular story it taught me things I never have thought about. You'll enjoy her writing, and the way the chapters change to forward and backward. I've read nine of her books and have not been let down at any time. This one though, hit home for me. Hope you enjoy it as much as me.
A departure from the other Catherine Ryan Hyde books I've read, this one is a little darker. After the opening chapter where a child witnesses a murder, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. All of the other books I've read by this author had "safer" themes, though none were the least bit ordinary or boring. But, as with every book I read by Hyde, I LOVE THIS BOOK! What a gifted author. These characters are so compelling and diverse, yet I love them all. The story is certainly a cliff-hanger. (Pun intended.) You will not be disappointed with this book or with any other book by Catherine Ryan Hyde!
5.0 out of 5 starsHeart wrenching story of unconditional love.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 13, 2021
“So much of how it started was when that cop got out and came up to me. But I didn’t know all this when it first happened. I didn’t know there would be a Leonard or that this man would be his father, or that anybody would have to die.” - Pearl
Pearl, the devoted teenage mother of five year old Leonard has spent the last five years hiding from a violent past. Life has given her every reason to mistrust people but circumstances force her to trust her neighbour, Mitch to look after her son while she’s at work. Then one day Pearl drops her son off and never returns.
Mitch and Leonard are an unlikely pair but in the wake of Pearl’s unexplained disappearance, the two form a bond that will change the course of their lives forever.
Love in the Present Tense is my second read by the author following the previously highly acclaimed Allie and Bea novel. Set in modern day Los Angeles, the novel is written in alternating chapters in the voices of three individuals; Pearl, Leonard and Mitch at various stages in their lives.
Pearl, the daughter of a drug addict, has been on the run from the law following a violent incident which resulted in her falling pregnant at the tender age of 12. Five years later, she’s a doting single mother of a son who she loves above all others until fate deals her a cruel blow and her past catches up with her. While Pearl’s appearance is brief, Leonard’s love for her permeates throughout the story.
Mitch is a twenty five year old, unattached successful business owner who is having an affair with a married woman.
Leonard is a precocious intuitive five year old boy with asthma and vision problems as a consequence of being born premature. He’s grown up without a father but his love for his mother is absolute. When she disappears, it’s his unlikely relationship with Mitch that takes centrefold. Leonard’s chapters alternate between the ages of 5,17,18 and lastly 30.
I couldn’t help falling in love with Leonard from the opening chapters. He’s such a sweet, loving, altruistic soul who is wise beyond his years. While Pearl’s fierce and unconditional love for Leonard combined with her tragic end had me tearing up, it was Leonard’s enduring bond with Mitch that had me continually welling up at the most inopportune moments.
‘He reached out and put his hand on my chest, feeling around for a heartbeat. Pearl must have done this with him, I thought. A kid this young doesn’t make these rituals up on his own. Or does he? I wasn’t sure. When he was sure he had my heart, he held his hand still, and it felt warm against my skin. “That’s how much I love you, Mitch. Okay? Do you feel it now?” Then a second later he said, “I didn’t mean to make you cry, Mitch.” “No, it’s okay. It’s a good thing. Thank you. Thanks for the forever love. It helps.” “Yuh.” Leonard said, “I know.”
Often dark, with themes of poverty, statutory rape, teenage pregnancy, single motherhood, murder, corrupt policemen etc this is nevertheless a heart wrenching story about love, loss and devotion. The bond between Mitch and Leonard as parent and child alternates and endures throughout the book with each needing the other equally. Their lives are richer as a result of their camaraderie.
“This is the problem every time I see Leonard. I go in as a guidance counsellor, come out as his personal cheerleader. Everything he does seem so right in person and in proximity.” - Mitch There were times when I felt a sense of unease as to where the author was going with Leonard. That he’d meet a tragic end.
“I’ve noticed too lately, that Leonard has been dancing really close to the edge of danger. Real, physical danger. But he is a human being. Somewhere deep down he has the same make up, the same basic urges as all of us. He just has this thing about transcendence. Doesn’t want too many earthbound connections. This makes me edgy because I get the sense that this is just a stopover for him, that he has no real plans for staying. Like if a guest came to my house and refused to unpack his suitcases. I might tease him about it. I might say, hey, loosen u and stay awhile. But the statement of intent would be pretty damn clear. That’s Leonard approach to life itself. He refuses to unpack.” - Mona speaking about Leonard to Mitch
I’m glad that the author included the note towards the end and that Pearl’s absence wasn’t left unresolved. A small part of me hoped that by some small miracle, Pearl would return. At least Leonard was able to get some closure at the end.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming story of selfless unconditional love than look no further. This is a powerful well written story of love, friendship and so much more, delivered with characters you won’t soon forget.
5.0 out of 5 starsWhat a beautiful, moving and thoughtful book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 9, 2020
Such an unusual story. It's like nothing I can recall reading before . The story is haunting. Love has many forms on many levels. I loved exploring the legacy of love that made Leonard the person he was and the impact he had through Pearl on people who came into his orbit. My third book this year by Catherine Ryan Hyde, each story different but all wonderful to read. I read this one in just two days. The characters in this book jump straight from the pages into your heart.
What a quirky wonderful book! It moved me and made me laugh - what a wee gem! It is impossible not to fall in love with Leonard's character. This book will stay with me for a long time to come. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this heart-warming and glorious book.
this is another really amazing book Catherine. it was sad but awe inspiring it made me feel i was sharing the quiet pain and happiness of Mitch and Leonard. i was praying for him both whe he was in the ocean and at the end