Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Author Guest Post / Contest Giveaway / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Don't Let Me Go!

Author Guest Post

My Writing Space

My writing space is a studio that I had built over the garage in 1993, back when I was sharing my home wit my elderly mom. My sister and her kids would come up to visit often, and I needed a quiet space to get away and work. 

Now my sister has passed away, her youngest "child" is twenty and got married just last week, and my mom is gone as well, after having lived to be 90. Not trying to be sad here, though it has been a tough time. It's more just to paint a picture. I have a special room to go to for silence, but now I have silence downstairs as well. So now many mornings I'll be lazy and get my work done in my easy chair in the living room. 

I have no desktop computer. Haven't had one for years. Just two laptops. So it's not a matter of going to sit at the computer. It's a matter of where I choose to sit with the computer. 

Speaking of which, this is my writing desk:

People look at it and usually say the same thing. Why no computer? Because it has a laptop on it when I'm working. When I'm not, the laptop comes with me. I confess I spent a massive amount of each day with a computer on my lap, whether I'm writing or not.

One of the things I love about my studio is that it has a built-in bookshelf on almost half of one wall:

There are a few books by others here, but I also have several downstairs bookcases for that. So mostly this one is filled with my own publications. Everything from magazines that have published my short stories to dozens of foreign editions of my books.

My writing space also has a lot of photos, posters and souvenirs from exciting career moments. Like a couple of photos of me and Bill Clinton, and a letter he sent me from the White House (over the mantle) after I attended a screening of the movie there:

On the far right of the photo, nearest the desk, is the first advance check I ever got for a book, and then the advance check for Pay It Forward, for humor in contrast. These are photocopies, by the way. A local newspaper did an article about me shortly after that book and movie broke, and semi-incorrectly stated that I had a great big advance check framed on my wall. Everybody I'd ever met called me or emailed me to say, "Are you crazy? Cash the check and spend it!" I'm not crazy. I had long before cashed the check and spent it.

My Pay It Forward movie poster:

There are actually three different movie posters, but that's a lot of wall space, so I have them one on top of the other. You can just lift one up to see the one underneath. They're attached at the top.

My Pay It Forward Movie set director's chair:

Please don't picture me lounging around on the set, being ever so involved in the filming. I was on the set one day, and one of the producers was nice enough to have this made for me as a souvenir after the fact. 

My meditation corner with book covers:

The view from the porch:

I must say the view was much nicer before they cut down the two big trees in the field behind me and replaced it with a huge house. But the glass is half full. The house is due north, so it blocks my view of the hills, but not the ocean view. I still have an ocean view from my studio.

And that's it! The tiny town I live in is only home to 6,000 people. We have no movie theater, no comedy club. But we have the ocean, the southernmost stand of Monterey pine forest, and lots of quiet. So ... all the better to write!

About The Author

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 WindmillsThe 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.

Catherine Ryan Hyde's Don't Let Me Go Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway 

Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Sept 3- 24

Everyone who leaves a comment on Catherine Ryan Hyde's Don't Let Me Go Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Don't Let Me Go before September 24th and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Don't Let Me Go Video Trailer

Book Review

Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: June 16, 2012
Format: Paperback - 434 pages / Kindle - 397 KB
ISBN: 1477663096
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Don't Let Me Go
AMAZON ----> The eBook for the Kindle is free on Fri 9/21 & Sat 9/22!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Former Broadway dancer and current agoraphobic Billy Shine has not set foot outside his apartment in almost a decade. He has glimpsed his neighbors—beautiful manicurist Rayleen, lonely old Ms. Hinman, bigoted and angry Mr. Lafferty, kind-hearted Felipe, and 9-year-old Grace and her former addict mother Eileen.

But most of them have never seen Billy. Not until Grace begins to sit outside on the building’s front stoop for hours every day, inches from Billy’s patio. Troubled by this change in the natural order, Billy makes it far enough out onto his porch to ask Grace why she doesn’t sit inside where it’s safe. Her answer: “If I sit inside, then nobody will know I’m in trouble. And then nobody will help me.”

Her answer changes everything.

By the bestselling author of When I Found You, Second Hand Heart, and Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go is the heart-breaking, funny, and life-affirming story of a building full of loners and misfits who come together to help a little girl survive—and thrive—against all odds.

Book Excerpt:

“Good Lord in heaven,” this lady named Bella said, holding up the back of Grace’s hair.

Bella was a big, heavy African lady. Not African American, like Rayleen, but really African African, from Nigeria (this is what Rayleen told Grace) with that nice accent that people have sometimes when they’re from Africa. And dreadlocks. She wore her hair in dreadlocks.

She was one of the hair stylist people at Rayleen’s salon, and friends with Rayleen, who stood close by, shaking her head and clucking her tongue. 

Grace could see them both in the mirror.

“Can you brush it out?” Rayleen asked.

“Oh, honey, that would hurt like the devil. And she would lose a lot. I think we should cut it.”

Grace watched Rayleen in the mirror. Watched Rayleen furrow her brow. 

“I’m not sure what her mother would think about that.”

“What do you care what her mother thinks? Where is her mother when this decision needs to be made? Something needs doing, and somebody needs to decide to do it, so let that somebody be you.”

“I’ll end up being the one who has to hear it from her, though,” Rayleen said. 

“You sure she’ll even get up from her bed long enough that you’ll have to hear about it? Have you even gotten her to call the county yet?”

“She says she did,” Rayleen said, like she wasn’t very sure.

“She did!” Grace piped up. “I know she did, because I was right there.”

“Oh. Good. Did she say what she was supposed to say?”

“Yeah. That you were my babysitter and all. Yeah.”

Rayleen furrowed her brow even more deeply. “Was she…did she seem… pretty…awake?”

“Medium,” Grace said.

Rayleen and Bella looked at each other’s eyes in the mirror, and Bella rolled hers a little bit, so Grace could see the whites of them.

“I guess we just keep our fingers crossed,” Rayleen said.

And Bella said, “So, let’s focus, girls. What about the hair?”

“I think we should let Grace decide. It’s her hair. Grace?”

“Hmm,” Grace said. “I think probably we should cut it. Because I hate that thing where somebody brushes out my hair when it’s knotty. It pulls. But… I don’t know. Will it look OK?”

“Will it look OK?” Bella howled. “Oh, my goodness! Little girl! You don’t know who you’re talking to! If I cut it, it will look superb!”

“I don’t know what superb means,” Grace said.

“Like good,” Rayleen said, “only better.”

“Oh. OK, then,” Grace said.

My Book Review:

Grace Johnson is a nine year old girl whose mother Eileen is a drug addict. Grace knows that life with her mother wasn't normal and that she needed help, but didn't know how to go about getting it. So she would sit for hours outside on the stoop of her apartment building hoping someone would notice her.

Billy Shine is a former Broadway dancer who suffers from agoraphobia and hasn't left his apartment in over a decade. From his patio, he notices that Grace has started to sit on the stoop for hours on a daily basis and he ventures out enough to ask her why.

When Grace tells Billy about her home life with her mom, this precocious little girl finds out that there are many people in her corner. The tenants of the apartment building ban together to take care of Grace, and along the way they learn to overcome their own issues while building a strong community bond.

Every once in a while a profoundly compelling story comes along that completely sweeps you off your feet, and for me, Don't Let Me Go is that book. This poignantly beautiful story is thoughtfully written in the third person narrative with alternating perspectives between Grace and Billy. Rich in detail and description, the author weaves a tale of the powerful bond of a small community to step out of their comfort zone to protect one of their own, while each learning to overcome their individual flaws and issues that will ultimately change their lives. This story is simply amazing, the author engages the reader to open their eyes to the beauty and power of the human spirit that allows people to open themselves to others to form a strong community bond.

The author has created a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters who are realistic, complex, intriguing and engaging people that the reader can relate to. The reader is introduced to each of the characters, and you can't help but get drawn into their individual stories. I absolutely fell in love with Grace, this lovable little girl had my heart and I couldn't help but feel for her and want to just hug her cares away. She is an amazing little girl with an old soul and who is wise beyond her tender young years. I also couldn't help but feel for Billy, this gentle man who hides within the shadow of his apartment, I wanted to hug him too and help him let go of the fears that have kept him trapped for so many years. I think the beauty of Grace and Billy's relationship was simply touching and pulled at my heartstrings. The quirky cast of supporting characters: Rayleen the manicurist, elderly Mrs. Hinson, bigoted Mr. Lafferty, and the kind-hearted Felipe, each added their own uniqueness along with the dialogue and interactions to make this a powerfully compelling story.

Don't Let Me Go is a story that will touch your soul and pull at your heartstrings, it will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride, but will leave you with a smile on your face, and the message that there really is goodness in the world.



  1. Replies
    1. Hi Samantha! I loved this book too, one of the best I've read recently. Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host the virtual book tour event. :)

  2. This book sounds incredible. Great review! I'm sorry I missed the tour. I'll have to add it to my TBR list! :)

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you for stopping by and posting your kind comment. If you get a chance to read the book it will be well worth it. :)