Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Russell Ammiano could not be more happy to have left his tiny Kansas town of Norville—or Nowhere-ville, as he calls it—behind forever. But on the morning of September 11th, 2001, a phone call makes him late to work. It’s from a neighbor in Norville. Russell’s mother has passed away suddenly. Russell must come home immediately, because someone has to take care of his older brother, Ben. Russell books a flight. But before he can even head for the airport, two planes hit the World Trade Center, where Russell worked. Russell would have been there, if not for the phone call. The life he’s so carefully built as a successful young ad executive comes tumbling down, literally. He hitchhikes all the way home.

His 30-year-old brother Ben, brain damaged in a childhood accident, hasn't changed a bit. And he never will. Russell has to try to figure out how his mother took care of Ben, without any “manual” of instructions. It’s not easy.

The town is a little different. Three of Russell’s high school friends are National Guard, and soon to ship out to Afghanistan. The old dry cleaners has been replaced by a bakery owned by naturalized Egyptian Nazir El Sayed and his daughter Anat. Russell befriends the two, and finds himself caught in the middle when post-9/11 fervor targets them for abuse. But the situation is further complicated when Russell falls for Anat, and she for him, challenging her traditional Egyptian upbringing. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about When You Were Older ~~

I read another one of Catherine's book a while back (Don't Let Me Go ~ my thoughts are here) and I loved it. I wasn't really expecting to but I love when that happens, don't you?

Well, here is her newest book, When You Were Older - and I have to say, I think I love this one even more! I started reading it over the weekend, when I still had so much Christmas stuff to do and I did not want to put it down. But I do have my priorities ~ and my top priority last weekend was to get to the end of this story!

I immediately loved Russell and empathized with him in his struggle to get home after 9/11. That morning, he was running behind schedule and was still home when he gets a phone call telling him that his mother has died and that he needs to come home to take over the care of his brother. If he hadn't been home to take that call, he would have been in one of the Towers when it was hit and he would have died along with all of his coworkers. He just wants to get home, take care of things and then get back to his life.

Well ...... things are not that easy.

I also loved this story because it took me back to the time of 9/11 and made me remember what a sad, crazy time it was. It was also a wonderful time for the United States because we all came together and became more patriotic. When You Were Older reminded me also that this time was not easy for everyone. People were shunned and hurt. And life goes on. And all we want is to be happy.

This story is fabulous and different from anything I have read in quite a while. Catherine is a wonderful writer and her stories are so enjoyable to read and so easy to get lost in. I can't wait to read more of her stories! She is my new 'must-read-everything-she-writes' author! Thank you Catherine, for another wonderful story!

Author Bio

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 18 published and forthcoming books. Her newest releases are When You Were Older, Don’t Let Me Go, Jumpstart the World, When I Found You and Second Hand Heart. Forthcoming is Walk Me Home (Transworld UK, Spring 2012).

Other newer novels are Becoming Chloe, Love in the Present Tense, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, Chasing Windmills The Day I Killed James, and Diary of a Witness. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List. Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards, received a third place Rainbow Award for Young Adult/Coming of Age Fiction and a tie for first place in Bisexual/Transgender Fiction. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

Older works include the story collection Earthquake Weather, and the novels Funerals for Horses, Pay it Forward, Electric God, and Walter’s Purple Heart.

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The mass market paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. It is still in print, and was rereleased in a trade paperback edition in April of 2010.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) 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.

Connect with Catherine!

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1 comment:

  1. This one sounds like a really great read. I hadn't heard of it before now but I really want to read this one now :D
    Great review!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages


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