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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Leaving Blythe River

ISBN: 9781503934467

Publisher: Lake Union

Publication Date: 5/24/2016

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars

New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde returns with an unforgettable story of courage.

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.

With the help of three locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. The days that follow transform Ethan’s world. Hail, punishing sun, swollen rapids, and exhausting pain leave him wondering if he’s been fooled yet again: Is his father out here at all? As the situation grows increasingly dire, Ethan realizes this quest has become about more than finding his dad.

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of nature revealing human nature—the trickiest terrain. Navigating an unforgiving landscape, Ethan searches himself for the ability to forgive his father—if he finds him alive.

My Review

A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can always expect several things from Catherine Ryan Hyde. There is always an exciting adventure—so pack your bags and enjoy the journey; which is anything but ordinary. As always, her characters cross paths with strangers, face challenges, and many obstacles; from nature, animals, and some wise lessons to be learned along the way. LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER draws you in from the vivid front cover setting, to the final page; Part coming-of-age, literary, domestic suspense, and a heart and soul exploration of ordinary flawed people, a family amidst extraordinary circumstances. Ethan, age seventeen is small for his age, and not cool. He feels inadequate around his father, mother, and his school mates. He does not fit in. No self-confidence. He is infatuated with his father’s secretary, Jennifer. Growing up with two parents -athletes, type A's---and Ethan, not so much. He feels inferior and a let down, loser. He and his mom are on their way to the airport for a hiking trip to Peru, and at the last minute something goes wrong, and they have to return home. Surprised, and faced with the ultimate betrayal, what they see changes the course of their lives. Their trip is cancelled, his mom and dad are separating. Next his mom receives a call- she has to leave town and take care of her ailing mother and father (his grandparents). He is not able to go due to the limited facility, and finds himself on his way from the city of Manhattan to the wilderness. He mom informs him he has to move in with his father. The last place he wants to be. An A-frame remote mountain cabin in Wyoming –in the middle of nowhere with real grizzly killer bears and a man he has nothing in common with—a man who is only concerned about his looks, his body, and himself. Plus he has to go to school here, and a summer around a self-centered father. Now a new set of complications. With his dog, his only friend- he receives the news about bears—never to be without bear spray from the park ranger. He finally makes it through the miserable school year and this godforsaken place, when his dad leaves one morning for a run, and never returns (plus he has taken the bear spray). Even though he does not like his father, Noah--he feels he has to find him. After calling the cops --the search party cannot waste any more money coming up empty handed, and finding out the father withdrew money the days before---Everyone thinks his dad just left. His mom is still dealing with his grandparents and he is on his own in the middle of the wilderness. With the tenacious and unwavering courage of Ethan, in search for his dad, and the help of three other eccentric characters and some animals, he learns he is more courageous than he thought. From bravery, forgiveness, strength, and lots of life’s lessons- an unforgettable story! A nature lover an active hiker and cycler, always concerned about having an accident and being stuck out alone on a remote trail alone (however, love the solace). Readers will fall in love with Ethan – the underdog—a journey of self-discovery and the heartwarming strangers he meets along the way…Everyone has a lesson to be learned. With the help of three colorful locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, a stubborn mule, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. Ironically, immediately after reading, LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER, watched an older movie on Amazon Prime An Unfinished Life (2005) Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, and Morgan Freeman. I had to laugh, an extension of the book---- Wyoming, bears, and a great family saga with some valuable life lessons of forgiveness. Very fitting. Another winner by Hyde!

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Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot.

Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Ryan Hyde is also founder and former president 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. Read More






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