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