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Chasing Windmills


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A chance meeting on a train, and two lives changed forever . . .

About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of several highly acclaimed novels including Pay it Forward, which was named an ALA Book of the Year and made into a feature film starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. In 2007 her novel Love in the Present Tense was selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Catherine lives in Cambia, California. or more information on Catherine Ryan Hyde and her books, see her website at www.cryanhyde.com


Seventeen-year-old Sebastian Mundt is homeschooled by his father in New York City. He hadn't seen his mother, now dead, since he was seven. When his father goes to sleep, Sebastian rides the subways, just to get out of the house. On one of his nocturnal subterranean journeys, he encounters 22-year-old Maria Arquette, who takes her own late-night rides to escape her abusive boyfriend, Carl, the father of her two children. A fan of the movie West Side Story (she was named for the lead character), Maria wishes her life could be as romantic. She calls Sebastian Tony, the movie's hero, and imagines a scenario where they run away together. Sebastian wants to get away from his domineering father, perhaps to the windmills he recalls from his brief stay as a child with his grandmother in the California desert. It does sound romantic, but how will Sebastian react to Maria's children? And how will she prevent Carl from finding her? Hyde (Love in the Present Tense) presents two damaged people who are too young to have withstood all they have yet strong enough to take that first step to something, "somewhere" better. Readers will dream right along with them while realizing that real life (even as portrayed in novels) isn't like the movies. Recommended for public library collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/07.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In the simple and captivating latest from Pay It Forward author Hyde, a chance encounter proves life-changing for two lonely New York City subway riders. Four months shy of 18, Sebastian Mundt has been held a virtual prisoner by his father since his mother died: his father home-schools him and doesn't let him have outside relationships. One night, with his father heavily sedated by his sleeping pill, Sebastian sneaks out to ride the subway and locks eyes with Maria Arquette, a young mother who is caught in an abusive marriage. The two share an instant connection and take to meeting on the subway almost nightly and tentatively planning a future in the California desert town that Sebastian remembers from childhood, where thousands of windmills stretch out across the horizon. Hyde gracefully alternates between Sebastian's and Maria's perspectives with gentle nods to this New York love story's precursors (Maria obsessively watches West Side Story). It is their voices-at once utterly credible and heartbreakingly naive-that make the book, and while this is being billed as an adult novel, its closest stylistic relative is S.E. Hinton's YA classic The Outsiders. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-Hyde's coming-of-age novel is a reimagining of the classic tale of star-crossed lovers-intentionally reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, but fresh and new as well. Sebastian, 17, and Maria, 24, meet while riding New York's subway trains 'til the wee hours of the morning. He's a sheltered homeschooler who sneaks out of the apartment after his controlling father takes his nightly sleeping pill. She's a mother of two who's afraid to tell her abusive husband that she's lost her night-shift job. There's also a fairy godmother-Delilah is a wise old woman who introduces Sebastian to the delights of pizza and DVDs and counsels him on love and the ways of the world. Sebastian and Maria alternate as narrators; short chapters make for a page-turning read and the distinct voices are sweet, soul-baring, and honest. Hyde writes evocatively of the visceral nature of first love. Her characters are well developed, and she describes settings (New York City, a cross-country bus trip, the Mojave Desert) economically but effectively. The ending is realistic and satisfying. Chasing Windmills will appeal to teens who enjoy realistic fiction and a good story about relationships.-Sondra VanderPloeg, Tracy Memorial Library, New London, NH Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"This gritty love story is compelling reading" * Sun *
"Surprisingly wonderful" * Mirror *

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