Heather's Reviews > Chasing Windmills

Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde
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's review
Feb 17, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: blog-recommendation
Read in November, 2008

I picked the book up yesterday, hoping to be able to read over the course of the next week or so (in order to be reading it and having it done by the end of the book chats next Friday); however, I could not, I repeat could not put this book down. This book was so riveting, the characters so multi-hued, the writing so beautiful, the struggles so real that you simply had to keep reading.

I originally wanted to help lead the book chats on this book because, judging by the title (which isn't necessarily always the smartest way to pick a book), I thought it would be a modern retelling of Don Quixote... I saw "windmills" and thought, "My, that sounds Quixotic." Later, after agreeing to participate, I actually read the synopsis of the book which said it's supposed to be a modern retelling of West Side Story (the re-telling of Romeo and Juliet).

All that to say that, even though there were numerous references to both WSS and R&J in the book, this book was totally Quixotic. More than their shared romance, which was beautiful and earnest, the reader gets totally wrapped up in each individual's quest for self-understanding and learning how to perceive and think about the world. Both of them have moments where they are a modern-day personification of Don Quixote.

Also, I think it's pert near impossible to have major references to windmills (which Chasing Windmills does) without bearing that refence to Cervantes--that's too put into our modern literary consciousness to be over-looked.

I truly came to love these characters and Hyde, who weaves together two first-person narratives, is an amazing writer who was able to easily put on both sets of skin and bring both Maria and Sebastian to life. When she was Maria, I cringed and wrestled with understanding abusive relationships; when she was Sebastian, I wondered at the difficulties of growing up in an oppressive environment. She was spot-on, 100% able to nail both characters.

I can't possibly think of anything I would have changed about this book (which is really saying something for me, I know). You don't get the ending you thought you were going to get, but neither did Sebastian or Maria; however, you walk away having grown to understand their relationship and their love and their world, and you'll find yourself okay with it all.

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