Sunday, May 17, 2020

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Lake Union Publishing: 5/19/20
eBook review copy; 300 pages

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a highly recommended contemporary drama set in L.A. that starts with a carjacking and then explores the often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters.

Brooke is a divorced and the mother of two-year-old Etta. Due to finances, she has been forced to move in with her domineering, judgmental, and critical mother. One night when her mother starts complaining about Brooke's parenting, Brooke takes Etta out to a children's movie. On the way home her life is shattered when she’s carjacked - and the ca is gone with Etta still strapped in the backseat. Brooke is frantic and inconsolable as she waits for news at the police station.

Miles away, Etta is abandoned on a sidewalk and found by Molly, a sixteen-year-old homeless teen who is living on the streets with her friend Bodhi. With no one in sight, she brings Etta back to the crate she calls home to keep her safe until she can call the police. Bodhi goes out and brings back apple juice and goldfish crackers for Etta, but also tells Molly that they must hide her and Etta because there are three guys looking for them with the intention of ransoming Etta back to her mother. He finds the two a safe spot and leaves to call the police, but never returns. Molly manages to keep Etta safe and quiet when the three malcontents are heard talking nearby, looking for them.

After a fraught night, Molly manages to contact the police to get Etta back to her mother. When Brooke sees Molly, dirty, disheveled and obviously a homeless street person, she immediately is suspicious and judgmental. Soon, however, the complete story is revealed to Brooke and she understands what Molly did to protect Etta and keep her safe. Etta also is saying Molly's name and obviously felt safe and loved while in the girl's care.

This is a social commentary story full of tension and judgmental attitudes that change and result in a heart-warming tale of understanding and compassion. Molly was thrown out of her home by her critical mother (and she reveals why late in the story) while Brooke is also dealing with a critical mother. The story quickly switches gears after the carjacking and the focus becomes compassion for others, love and trust, what makes a family, changing attitudes, and a final moment of utter clarity of a future course beneficial to all.

The writing is quite good, despite the emotional manipulation, and clearly becomes a message novel - which is fine. The plot is basically simple as the narrative alternates between the point-of-view of Brooke and Molly. While it does tackle social issues, they are simplified in the narrative, which, again, is fine. This is going to be a glimpse at some social issues, but won't tackle the more  grim, gritty, and complicated reality. It is a quick read and will hold your attention throughout. The denouement is a feel-good heart-warming story that is neatly concluded.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

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