|Read an Excerpt|
Because you can follow links to the official book synopsis, I won't spend time rehashing what you can discover for yourself. Let me just give you the broad strokes and then cut to the chase. After all, that's what I want in a review—not so much facts, as the alchemy of what makes for an unforgettable reading experience.
I have already mentioned Etta. If you ask me, this amazing toddler is the pivot upon which everything turns. As the story begins, Etta is ripped away from her family in the course of a carjacking. Her mother, Brooke, is desperate to find her baby, but the odds are stacked against a safe return.
And then there is Molly, a cast-off teen, living on the mean streets of L.A. after being discarded by her rigid, unaccepting parents. It is so perfectly fitting that a child who has lost all sense of worthiness is the one who comes to find, and protect, Etta after the jackers abandon her in the dark of night.
Despite the bleak circumstances that embrace both Brooke and Molly (or, I'm now thinking it is because of that bleakness), the broken pieces of two psyches will discover a way to fit together in perfectly imperfect ways to form a new sense of acceptance, belonging, and family.
Brave Girl, Quiet Girl is ultimately the story of how the light gets in through the broken places to illuminate the beauty that was formerly hidden within the bleakness. I've come to the recognition, after reading a majority of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books, that one of her many gifts as a writer is something I can only compare to the Japanese aesthetic known as wabi-sabi.
The thing I find so appealing about this aesthetic, especially as it applies to CRH's consistent approach to bringing together beautifully flawed people, is how the imperfection causes me to love them more. Just as the Japanese do, the author highlights rather than hides the flaws. In her skillful hands, the flaw becomes the work of art.
Just as wabi-sabi features that which is authentic, and acknowledges that nothing is finished, so too do we see that in this book's work-in-progress characters. We experience them in their raw state of becoming. It makes them entirely relatable and, in my case, made me feel great empathy for their plights.
Finally, I was deeply struck by how the homeless in this story viewed those who sought to help them. It made me reflect on my current relationships with those who are without a home. Why is help offered? When is help not at all helpful? What is the best way to reach out to those in need? How do they define the need?
Those who appreciate the humanity at the center of Catherine Ryan Hyde's writing are sure to find much to love, just as I did, in Brave Girl, Quiet Girl. I knew I could count on coming away from this read with a feeling of greater compassion—not only toward Brooke, and Molly, and Bodhi—but also for my own flawed self.
Brave Girl, Quiet Girl releases on May 19, 2020. I received an Advanced Reader Copy (e-galley) from NetGalley in return for my honest review. I highly recommend this book and encourage you to pick up your copy today.
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