Friday, May 14, 2021

Take Me with You - Catherine Ryan Hyde


Catherine Ryan Hyde’s Take Me with You (2014) reminds me very much of her When I Found You, a novel I read back in 2008. In both instances, a man has his life turned upside down by children who randomly come into his life. In Take Me with You, the main character encounters the two young sons of the small-town mechanic he’s hired to get his travel rig back on the road, and in When I Found You, a man finds a small baby that’s been abandoned in a field he is walking across on his way to hunt ducks. In both novels, the men have to deal with unreliable relatives of the children who resent the long term relationships that will develop between the men and the children. It should be noted, however, that Take Me with You does have a much more positive tone and ending than When I Found You.


August, a high school science teacher on a tight travel budget, is on his way to Yellowstone National Park when his rig breaks down in a small California town, and now it appears that the repair costs are going to eat up all of his allocated gas money and then some. For very personal reasons, August is desperate to get to Yellowstone, but now it looks as if he is going to have to try again next year.  And then it happens: the mechanic, who is about to begin a 90-day DUI jail sentence, offers to do the repairs for free if only August will take his two boys along with him and keep them until school starts again in September. August knows there are all kinds of reasons that he can’t — and shouldn’t — even seriously consider what the man is asking him to do. But when he drives away, the boys are with him. 


On the road, August learns that the boys, aged 12 and 7, have been emotionally damaged by living alone for the past few years with their alcoholic father. In their own way, the boys are as damaged and fragile as August, himself a recovering alcoholic and newly divorced, knows himself to be. An entire summer of life on the road together will not be easy for any of them, but it will end up being the defining moment in each of their lives despite their reluctance to admit it to themselves or, most difficultly, to each other.


Bottom Line: Take Me with You strikes me as a novel whose message is that life is only made more difficult, and more precious time wasted, when good people fail to communicate with each other out of a misplaced fear of offending each other. This is, in effect, as much a coming of age novel for August as it is for the two boys for whom he suddenly finds himself totally responsible. Hyde tells a good, satisfying story here despite the fact that I found myself sometimes wishing I could shake a couple of the main characters by the shoulder and tell them to just get on with it.  

Catherine Ryan Hyde

8 comments:

  1. Loved the very last bit. I think it's comparable to my Moonstruck Moment when I want to give a character a good slap and say, "Snap out of it!"

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    1. That's exactly what happened to me with this one...I kept wishing I could tell the main character to ask what the boys were thinking instead of just mistakenly assume he already knew...over and over again.

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  2. This is the only Catherine Ryan Hyde novel that I've read, but I remember liking it.

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    1. It's not at all a bad novel, but I don't think I'll be searching for a new one. There's just something "missing" and I can't put my finger on it.

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  3. This sounds like it might be a nice change from gloom and doom reading. Nice to hear that it has a positive ending.

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    1. It's definitely a nice change of pace, Dorothy, and the ending is definitely positive...if a little bit subdued.

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  4. This sounds like a decent, redemptive kind of story. The author has written many books and, I've read a few bit, not this one. Tomorrow I'm posting my tentative summer reads list and The Language of Hoofbeats, C. Ryan Hyde, which has been on my shelves for several years is on the list of summer hopefuls.

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    1. This was at least my third book of hers, and I've like all of them to one degree or another. I haven't read The Language of Hoofbeats, so I'll look forward to seeing how you like that one. Summer...what a beautiful word that is.

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