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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Life, Loss, and Puffins

Narrator: Jess Nahikian

Brilliance Audio

ISBN: 9781662504419

Publisher: Lake Union

Publication Date: 05/14/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

An exhilarating and emotional novel about grief, hope, friendship, and taking life one beautiful and spontaneous day at a time by New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Freakishly smart. That’s the unwelcome box Ru Evans is put into for life. After all, she taught herself Euclidean geometry at age seven, has an eidetic memory, and is about to enter college at thirteen years old.

Boarding at a house near campus 150 miles from home, Ru meets seventeen-year-old Gabriel, an outsider himself who, like Ru, has trouble making friends—until they form a fast sibling-like bond. Finding a relatable someone in the world to talk to is a first for both of them.

But when Ru’s mother dies and the threat of living with her miserable aunt looms, Ru hatches an escape. It’s an impulsive road trip that takes Ru and Gabriel from California to Canada, where Ru can fulfill her ultimate dream: to see Atlantic puffins in the glorious wild.

Mile by mile, Ru discovers the joy of friendship, found family, dark night skies, and the aurora borealis, and she basks in going from being a smart person to just a person. Though she knows they’ll be in trouble when they’re caught, for the short time they are navigating twist by twist of an unknown road, the freedom is liberating, and she is living for what feels like the first time.

My Review

You HAD me at CRH, Road Trip, and Puffins.

No one does road trips better than Catherine Ryan Hyde!

Master storyteller and author of more than 40 books, Catherine Ryan Hyde, returns following A Different Kind of Gone with her latest dazzling and heartwarming tale, LIFE, LOSS, AND PUFFINS. Discover the meaning of JOY!

Adventure, grief, loss, friendship, memory, identity, and hope abound in this full-of-heart road trip to remember, with characters who linger long after the book ends.

Ru Evans is highly intelligent. She taught herself Euclidean geometry at age seven and has an eidetic memory. At thirteen, she is about to enter college. Think Young Shelton.

She will be boarding at a house near campus, 150 miles away from home. There, she meets 17-year-old Gabriel. He is different, like her. They bond and become fast friends. He is like a big brother she never had. She is delighted to finally meet a relatable friend.

However, Ru's mother dies, and she is devastated. The loss, grief, and worry about how she will survive without her. She cannot live with her horrible aunt.

Ru and Gabriel come up with an escape plan. A ROAD TRIP from California to Canada where Ru can finally see Atlantic puffins! Everything she wants to see before starting college.

Setting off on their daring adventure, Ru and Gabriel discover the joy of living in the moment. While they anticipate the consequences of their actions, they are now immersed in a world of intriguing characters, each with unique wisdom and charm.

Ru and Gabriel are a dynamic duo who can communicate without words and have a deep understanding of each other.

A young girl with dreams and ambitions, she is enamored by astrology and wants to see and know everything, to take it all in. Will she finally get her wish to see the Aurora Borealis, stars, nature, and Atlantic puffins?

LIFE, LOSS, AND PUFFINS is an emotional and remarkable story with CRH's signature style. A huge long-time fan of the author, she is a gifted master storyteller and unlike any other author. You can tell the author loves to travel, a lover of nature and life and the human complexities between the words on the pages. Full of analogies, symbolisms, and lovely metaphors.

Lyrical and thought-provoking, I enjoy how the author creates multi-generational characters in desperate situations and finds a way for them to learn, grow, flourish, and light up the world and learn something along the way.

"If you want a piece of advice, always choose to live your life in a way that promotes awe."

I adored seeing the world through the eyes of these two—all the stops along the way and the fun chapter titles. Awe-inspiring!—a beautiful coming of age uplit story that will steal your heart. A favorite author, I always look forward to her next masterpiece to transport me. Always an adventure. I highly recommend LIFE, LOSS, AND PUFFINS and all CRH books.

An ideal pick for book clubs and further discussions. (Book Club questions included).

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the pleasure of a gifted digital advanced reading copy for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: Date: May 14, 2024


“Hyde writes a deeply compelling novel about teenagers finding their way in the world, even if their paths look a bit different than usual. Fans of Ethan Joella's A Quiet Life, Mary Alice Monroe's The Summer Guests, and Hazel Prior's Ellie and the Harpmaker will appreciate Hyde's deft handling of Ru's complex gift and the novel's heartwarming, character-driven charm.” ―Booklist

About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of well over forty books and counting. An avid traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she shares her astrophotography with readers on her website.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association (ALA) for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in over thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow Book List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015.

More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals; in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts; and in the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored by the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and have been nominated for The Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in the annual Best American Short Stories anthology.

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.

For more information, please visit the author at







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