By: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 5/23/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer.
With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.
When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.
Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.
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Master storyteller, Catherine Ryan Hyde returns following Say Good-Bye for Now landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with another emotional thought provoking saga ALLIE AND BEA – two protagonists from different generations caught up an unfair system find they may learn something from one another.
The best and worst of humanity.
Bea a senior barely making it on her small social security check. Her husband is deceased and she resides in a mobile home with her cat Phyllis. Her savings is nearly depleted trying to make ends meet.
Then a phone scammer saying he is from the IRS to collect back taxes. Quickly her money is gone. Wiped out. She has nowhere to turn and nowhere to live. Even her rent check will bounce since someone wiped out her bank account.
Feeling stupid and helpless, she has to change her direct deposit bank account and decides she has no choice but to live in her old van with her cat; and leaves her things with a friend. She barely has enough money for gas and food for another month until she receives her next social security check.
Then she is faced with the impossible and begins doing things she never thought she would do in order to survive. Bea does not have any knowledge of cell phones, nor the internet. She never had the opportunity to do much traveling nor see the world. She is rough around the edges, and over the years she has learned not to let others in or get too close. She does not trust easily, cynical, and now a loner. How will she continue to survive sleeping in her van and too old for a job.
Told from two points of view, we meet Allie. Allie is a teen and wise beyond her years. She is smart and has strong principals and intergrity. She is a devout vegan and very strict with her food and lifestyle.
She has just discovered her mom and dad are being arrested for tax fraud and being sent to jail. She is left with a social worker, and has to leave her home, friends, school, and all her possessions -
taken to a group home. Allie has no clue of the evil of this world.
All this is foreign to Allie. She soon learns people in this world are not so nice. Some of the girls are very dangerous at the group home and things get out of hand. She has nowhere to turn and no money. Then her only hope is a friend who helps her escape and soon finds herself in another nightmare even worse than what she left. Human trafficking.
She has one shot in order to escape a madman. Soon an unlikely old woman and a runaway teen connect. Two lives both desperate. They soon discover they may learn some hard life lessons together.
As always, Hyde takes readers on a thought-provoking adventure. It may not be an easy road; however, her characters always find a way to connect with someone on a different path to change their lives. Fate intersects. They may not know the reason for the encounter, but you can be assured they were meant to take the journey.
On a personal note:
Even though I could relate to Bea being a senior, had to think of my recent experience with my dad, age 86 yrs old. He has been in skilled nursing section of the hospital for the last six weeks. As his POA, trying to break out him to go home this Friday. He is so excited. He sees hope.
He is in NC and I am in FL, and have literally been working around the clock for him, determined to get him out of this hospital, away from this doctor, and the entire crazy healthcare system in order to take back our control. Have arranged in home skilled nursing ($15K mo) in order for him to go home to live out the remainder of his life (advanced heart failure), or until his savings run out to go under Medicaid. The poor man has not had a good night sleep in six weeks. Makes you think about what is important in life. Insurance pays nothing for skilled nursing after your days are cut off.
I have had to learn quickly about how our system works: Medicare (0-20- 100%, then 21-100 50% days of skilled nursing). However, you lose the days if anyone says you are not progressing. This decsion is left up to people who visit once a month for a few minutes. Like with 15% EF how are you to do all the PT? My mom and dad saved their entire life with investments, real estate and great health insurance. However, none of this matters. You are own your own.
The end goal (per attorneys), CPA, and research this week: To spend down all your money in order to get down to $2,000 total assets to qualify for Medicaid in order to pay for skilled nursing. You can keep your house and auto, but they give you no money to pay for the HOA, taxes and insurance and oh, you are alloted a whopping $30 mo for expenditures. You soon learn about Lady Bird Deeds, Half Loaf, and all sorts of creative complex things to save your assets.
So you save all your life to give it all away to a nursing home, and after you die in a nursing home the government will also take your house to recoup their costs. Not a lot to look forward to when you retire. Something is wrong with our twisted healthcare system.
Was thinking of my dad when reading about Bea. A few months ago before dad had to go to the hospital, he is living at home independently, and receives a call from someone saying, he is my son (my dad’s grandson). He is in jail in the Bahamas, because he had too much champagne and needs him to wire him money.
My son does not even live in the same city as my dad, nor does he like champagne, nor has he ever been in jail nor was he in the Bahamas. Evidently someone read my mom’s obituary last August and have been waiting for the right time to call my dad (this is kind of scary), people preying on the elder. The guy must have chosen the oldest grandson on the list of grandchildren (usually in order of age). At least my dad had enough foresight to consider it was a scam and hung up. Some people lose their life savings over something similar, like Bea.
I also related to Allie in so many ways. She is wise beyond her years. She has integrity. I am also a vegan and some of the reactions are ones I face daily. I had to laugh when I went to a shelter during our last Florida hurricane evacuation. I could eat nothing they had. It was good I packed some healthy snacks and was able to go home the following day. Being a vegan is foreign to many in our world. Lots of laugh between the two.
I admired Allie for her strong principals; however, it also demonstrated how when faced with survival, how people get desperate enough to cross moral and ethical lines. A heartwarming story of the kindness of others. She taught Bea so much about herself.
No one can take you on a better road trip adventure than Catherine Ryan Hyde— mixed with life messiness, emotion, heart, and lots of humor. I think we have all been close to living in our car at one time or another, in our lives when things have looked hopeless.
A good look at our broken system and how it fails the young and the old in different and similar ways. When this happens, we may not always have a family; however, there may be a guardian angel where we least expect through the kindness of a stranger.
The highs and loves of life! The cracks in life let the light through. After reading a CRH book you want to rush out and do something good for someone, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Help someone less fortunate. You want to give back. Life changing moments. Inspiring.
In addition to the reading copy, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Lauren Ezzo and Janet Metzger with an engaging performance for both voices. Loved the journey along the Pacific Coast. One of my favorite cities: Santa Barbara, CA! I was curious to see how these two souls from different walks of life would connect - fans will enjoy this one.
From an online interview with the author we get a glimpse into what’s coming next:
“After Allie and Bea will come a novel called The Wake-Up, about a former cattle rancher who becomes so sensitive to the emotions of others that his entire life is turned upside-down. And all this just as he’s trying to find his way with a seriously abused new stepson who can’t be trusted around his animals.” Read more
Ironically, have read many of CRH books ; however, realized this evening I have never watched or read, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s international sensation, Pay It Forward, the moving story of Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old boy who accepts his social studies teacher’s challenge to come up with a plan to change the world.
Rented it tonight on Amazon Kindle- highly recommend if you have not read the book or watched the movie. (have some Kleenex handy).
A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
May Top Reads
POPSUGAR Hot New Spring Books Selection
“Hyde delivers a fast-paced, touching, and humorous journey of an unlikely pair who never knew they needed each other.…Through little adventures and hiccups, the two learn eye-opening things about themselves and their outlook on the world. Perfect for anyone looking for an uplifting and lighthearted escape.” —Booklist
“An appealing tale of friendship, family, trust, and faith in humanity. Fans of the author’s previous works will enjoy growing and traveling alongside the title characters.” —Library Journal
About the Author
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-two published 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. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. 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 as well as 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.
Hyde is the 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