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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Don't Let Me Go

Sometimes a child knows better...'Grace': Ten-year-old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. And there's only so long Grace can fend off the 'woman from the county' who is threatening to put her into care. Her only hope is...'Billy': Grown-man Billy Shine hasn't been out of his apartment for years. People scare him, and the outside world scares him even more. Day in, day out, he lives a perfectly orchestrated silent life within his four walls. Until now...'The Plan': Grace bursts into Billy's life with a loud voice and a brave plan to get her mum clean. And it won't be easy, because they will have to confiscate the one thing her mum holds most dear ...they will have to kidnap Grace.

I have been a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde for a long time, in fact I think I first discovered her when her book, Love in the Present Tense, was chosen as one of the books for Richard and Judy's book club in 2007. 

This book is one of my favourites, although this may be because i identify with one of the main characters, Billy, so much as I have faced a similar battle as him, but more of that later.

The main character in the book is Grace, a ten year old girl, whose mother is a drug addict, and is often left to fend for herself while her mother is out of it. They live in a house made up of many flats; Billy, a single man who lives on his own and is never seen outside of his flat;Mr Lafferty, a single man who was rarely seen and kept himself to himself and hiding a secret from his past; Felipe, a spaniard; Mrs Hinman, an old lady, living on her own; and Rayleen, a lady who steps in when Grace was about to be taken into care. The book follows the story of Grace and Rayleen's attempts to keep her out of foster care, with the residents from the flats working together to provide a baby sitting service, which the lady from the social finds acceptable. Felippe teaches her Spanish and Billy teaches her to tap dance. 

I said previously that Billy was my favorite character and that i sympathise with his journey throughout the book. Billy has become housebound due to panic attacks. For people who have never suffered from panic attacks may find this difficult to understand, however while pregnant with my first child I did become nearly housebound and when I had to leave the house found it extremely difficult and distressing. While reading the book it reminded me how I felt and when Billy tried to take Grace to school and had to turn around and run home petrified I remembered that feeling vividly. Either Catherine Ryan Hyde has herself been in this situation and experienced these feelings or has done a lot of research with sufferers of the condition. The range of emotions and steps Billy had to take to succeed in watching Grace's performance at school was perfect.

I also liked Grace, she was a young girl, only 10, saw the good in everybody and didn't like that each resident within the house were in their own flats, didn't know their neighbours or have any community spirit. Grace was able to bring them all together and new friendships were made and problems shared and sorted. She had to do a lot more for herself and deal with things the average 10 year old would not be expected to deal with, however she was still vulnerable and Rayleen allowed her to be a normal 10 year old, who enjoyed having her hair and nails done etc. Grace has to make hard decisions and when she tells her mother that she does not want to see her until she has managed 30 days of being clean, it is obvious that Grace misses her mother but knows this is the only way she can remain out of care and to make her mother understand her feelings towards her.

I think that is a brilliant book which covers a number of hard hitting subjects but has a very good basic story underneath these subjects.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants a strong story which covers issues which are current in today's world. I was especially glad to find a book which includes panic attacks and accurately  details how sufferers feel and the tough journey they face to over come them.

Thank you to the publishers, Black Swan, for sending me the book to review.

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