Karen's Reviews > Have You Seen Luis Velez?

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde
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really liked it

4.5 stars.

I've read Catherine Ryan Hyde's novels before and I knew this was going to be good. She did not disappoint. This book is about the friendship that develops between a 92-year-old blind woman and a 17-year-old boy. That sounds like an interesting enough premise but there's so much more to this story. By the end of the novel, the author has covered issues around ageism, belonging , racism, asexuality, family, friendship, divorce, justice system, and even quantum physics. All of these, plus much more shows up in this book. It's layered, interesting, touching and and deeply profound in places. Even though the dialogue feels didactic and stilted in a few places, to me, the overall book was so wonderful that I didn't care.

I highlighted many sections but here area few that really resonated with me:
I think you're the first person I've ever known...I might not say it right. We'll see...who really sees me. And I mean the whole thing of me, not just the part that fits with how they want to see me. And it seems weird to me, because the first person I met who really sees me for all of who I am ...you know.. can't see."

"When it comes to seeing what's important about a person," she said "I think it's possible that what our eyes tell us is only a distraction...."

I've heard sentiments like this before, but I really liked the distraction phrasing.

Life gives us nothing outright. It only lends. Nothing is ours to keep. Absolutely nothing. Not even our bodies, or brains. This 'self' that we think we know so well, that we think of as us. It's only on loan. If a person comes into our life, they will go again. In a parting of ways, or because everyone dies. They will die or you will die. Nothing we receive in this life are we allowed to keep. I am not some spoiled child who . will take my toys and go home because I do not wish to accept that this is the way things work."

A very interesting perspective (for me) on (not) giving up. I'm still thinking about this one...

"The world will still be a place where people do terrible things. But here's the thing about despair. We fall into despair when the terrible gangs upon us and we forget the world can also be wonderful. We just see terrible everywhere we look. So what you do . for your friend is you bring up the wonderful, so both are side by side. The world is terrible and wonderful at the same time. One doesn't negate the other but the wonderful keeps us in the game. It keeps us moving forward. And, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Raymond, but that's as good as the world's going to get."

I loved every bit of this.

The thing that's magical about Catherine Ryan Hyde's novels is how they manage to feel light and profound at the same time. I'd say this is not a "hard to read" book but it's full, it's not lightweight, it's layered, and textured and manages to be sad without depressing and manages to be profound without leaving you broken. In fact, it leaves you hopeful about humanity for the most part. Or manages to really show you how the the world is terrible and wonderful at the same time.

What a joy to read. Huge thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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Reading Progress

January 21, 2019 – Started Reading
January 21, 2019 – Shelved
January 24, 2019 – Finished Reading

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