Don’t Let Me Go

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Don't Let Me Go, Catherine Ryan Hyde, book reviewI have just finished reading Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde and feel quite emotionally drained because of this wonderful book. It is thought-provoking and poignant and makes subtle observations about the state of twenty first century living. It’s also most uplifting and to me felt like a testament to the power of human kindness.

In Don’t Let Me Go we meet Grace who is a small girl with big problems. She lives with her mother in a small apartment block in LA but her main problem is that her mother is a drug addict and if she does not clean up her act very soon, Grace could very likely be taken away by the ‘woman from the county’. Her mother does not seem able to take Grace to school or pick her up, feed her meals or generally take an interest in the things that she does. In fact all she seems to do is sleep! Grace does not have any family or friends to turn to, but there are always those quiet and somewhat strange people who all have apartments in the same block…

Billy Shine lives in the same apartment block as Grace but he hasn’t stepped outside his front door for the past twelve years. He would be quite happy to continue living like this but there’s this young girl from the apartment downstairs who won’t leave him alone. Then there’s Rayleen across the way who seems to have taken Grace under her wing. She can take her to school each day and another neighbour, Felipe, will bring her home but they both have to work. Is there any possibility that Billy will look after Grace for a few hours at the end of each school day?

Grace and Billy tentatively get to know and trust each other, especially when he starts teaching her to dance. Grace’s unofficial network seems to be working: she is being cared for each day whilst her mother seems to relinquish all responsibility. It should be perfect but, as Mr Lefferty, another neighbour, points out, they are all enabling Grace’s mother to continue feeding her habit and opting out as a mother. The only thing that is likely to make her reform is if she feels in danger of losing the most precious thing that she has – Grace! And so a high risk plan is hatched which is it succeeds will truly reunite Grace and her mother, but could have drastic consequences if it fails.

This wonderful story really hooked me emotionally and I felt really moved by Grace’s story and the way that she somehow united a lot of lonely lost people all afraid and living solitary lives. It was wonderful the way that they all worked together to help grace and through doing so, resolved many of their own problems along the way. I thought that all of the characters were developed beautifully and I found myself caring for each and every one of them especially when they all were prepared to give so much to try to help one vulnerable little girl. I loved the way that they seemed to grow as a family unit and ending up not only supporting Grace, but each other as well.

Don’t Let Me Go is not action packed by any means and in fact virtually all of the story takes place within the small apartment block with only a few ventures out towards school or Eileen’s (Grace’s mother’s) support group. In many ways, the story is very slow but it unfolds quite delightfully, making the reader really feel a part of what is happening. I loved seeing how this group of highly unlikely misfits came together and attempted to overcome their own shortcomings for the sake of Grace and I just wanted to keep on reading to find out how things would turn out for them all in the end. For me, it was a wonderful read from start to finish.

This was the first book that I have read by Catherine Ryan Hyde and it definitely will not be the last if her other books are even half as good as Don’t Let Me Go.

Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Published by Black Swan, September 2011
With thanks to publisher for sending a review copy.

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Don’t Let Me Go
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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