This deeply affecting novel by the author of Pay It Forward begins with the intersection of two nearly-lost lives. Jordan, 17, is hustling sex to earn a living in New York City after coming out to his parents and nearly getting killed by his homophobic father. In the horrific opening scene, he's squatting in the cellar he calls home when he realizes a girl is being raped in the alley outside. The victim is an 18-year-old waif whose life so far has been so unrelentingly brutal it doesn't register with her to complain about the rape. The instantaneous bond they form (Jordan gives her the name Chloe) has its origins in the most heartbreaking of circumstances: neither had a parent they could count on (though the author never divulges the full story of Chloe's childhood, which may frustrate some readers). When a second violent incident makes them fugitives, the two wind up on an exhilarating coast-to-coast journey looking for joy and beauty in what so far has been a grim existence. Readers will love this road trip as the two drive, bike and hitchhike from Niagara Falls to Big Sur, running into (mostly) wonderful people along the way. Jordan is an uncommonly mature teen, perhaps a tad idealized, but he and Chloe feel entirely real and readers will root for them. This is eloquent storytelling about how two troubled teens find redemption-through each other. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Jordan meets Wanda when he saves her from being raped on the streets of New York. She seems only slightly relieved to have the violence interrupted, and Jordan begins to realize her life has been a series of acts like this. As they forge a powerful friendship, Wanda embarks on the journey of becoming Chloe, attempting to change who she is as she searches for beauty in a cross-country trip to see the Grand Canyon, Big Sur, and other beautiful things along the way. Jordan and Chloe meet extraordinary people, some very giving and others careless or vicious, who help them form their views of the world and the worth of their lives in it. Will Jordan and Chloe survive the natural and man-made dangers that face them as they travel alone? Will they ultimately decide the world is more beautiful or ugly? Although the relationship between Jordan and Chloe is not sexual, other sexual encounters and descriptions of violence make this inappropriate for readers under (at least) age fourteen. 2006, Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, Ages 14 up.
Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
Something is not right about the young woman Jordy rescues during a gang rape in a New York City alley. Fragile and beautiful, she does not seem to understand that something terrible has happened to her or that bad things happen at all. When Jordy tells her that she can change her name, she becomes Chloe, and she and Jordy, a gay teen living on the streets after nearly being beaten to death by his father, become a team. Chloe's childlike state hides a lifetime of abuse, and when that mask begins to slip, Jordy must prove to them both that the world is beautiful. This thought-provoking story of the power of hope from the author of Pay it Forward (Simon & Schuster, 1999) blends the realities of street life with the wonder of cross-country exploration. Jordy, burdened by guilt and the scars of his parents' anger, is a character readers can care deeply for, even as he makes tough choices, such as hustling and stealing to keep their heads above water. Chloe-dog-whisperer, artist, pure spirit-is less convincing when her defenses break down and she falls into depression, perhaps only because she has been so luminous until then. She does not become a clichT, however, and their redemption in the face of their combined life experiences proves the power of the novel's ultimate message that, even in a world of seemingly relentless tragedy, beauty is there, too, if one takes the time to look for it. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Knopf, 224p., Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Jordy, homeless, gay, and abused, finds a kindred spirit when he rescues fragile, childlike Chloe from a brutal rape near the abandoned building where they both live. Thus begins their intensely codependent friendship. When Jordy all but commits murder to protect Chloe, it only reinforces in his mind that they have no option but to leave New York City for their safety and sanity. And here, at the halfway mark, the novel takes a left turn: the teens hightail it out of the city in a beat-up pickup truck to discover America and possibly new lives. The arresting and gut-wrenching opening scene promises a gritty urban tale of survival, and despite some choppy, repetitive dialogue, Hyde makes the first half of the book succeed. But the cross-country trek quickly loses momentum with a wistful, near-philosophical shift in tone. And while Hyde's jerky, streamlined style reinforces the teens' pain, it doesn't complement their cross-country search for beauty and trust in the novel's second half. The results feel rushed and uneven, almost as if two separate narratives were merged to create this single slim volume.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Tender, amazingly hopeful and only occasionally sentimental, this tale of two lost children comes from the author of Pay It Forward. Jordy is gay; he has run away from his wealthy and totally disapproving parents. Sleeping in a cellar in New York City he tries to rescue a tiny blonde girl from rape. Chloe-she chooses that name-doesn't exactly seem to notice. She has been thoroughly abused, and Jordy finds himself completely taken by the need to protect her. These two take a journey lit by Chloe's dreams of beautiful things, including riding a horse along Big Sur in California. From Niagara Falls to the Painted Desert, they ride, hitchhike and bicycle, mostly helped by the kindness of strangers but occasionally hurt or hindered. What is gorgeous, however, is their search and their response to the world, to living creatures and to each other, reminding readers of how many different names there are for love. Vibrant and heartbreaking. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
“Tender, amazingly hopeful and only occasionally sentimental. . . .Vibrant and heartbreaking.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“The powerful questions about responsibility and forgiveness will affect readers, as will the characters who make their own family, and in doing so, find love, hope, and deep friendship.”—Booklist
Read an Excerpt
The cellar has five high windows that let out onto the alley between this building and the next. I'm trying to get some sleep, only there are people having sex out there. I can hear the guy grunting the way guys do. Some guys. Not all guys. I never made a sound like that.
The girl is on her back on the hard concrete of that filthy alley, and I entertain the thought that maybe this was never her idea. That this is not a voluntary gig on her part. Because who gets turned on by lying in filth on cold concrete to do it? Then again, in this city, who knows? I've been in this city five days. Slept in this cellar three. Already I've seen people sink pretty low and not think twice about it. Lower than they probably thought they'd ever go. Too bad I'm one of them.
There's a streetlight out on the avenue, but not much light makes it down to the back of the alley. And even less makes it down here where I sleep. But at the street end of the alley there's a little bit of light, and I look down that way, and I see about three more pairs of feet.
I hear a guy say, "Someone's coming." He's talking in that kind of hoarse whisper they call a stage whisper, but this is definitely not the stage. This is so real it's starting to change me. Then he says, "No. Never mind. It's okay."
By now my stomach is all cold and I realize this is rape going on up there. I realize that my inconvenience at being kept awake doesn't stack up to much. I can think of at least one person in this direct vicinity who's having a much worse night than I am.
And I know I have to do something. I'm just not sure what.
I have to find a place to hide. Because I think I'm going to have to yell, and I don't want anyone to know where I'm yelling from. When I interrupt them, they're not going to like that. And the last thing I want is for them to come take out their frustrations on me. There's one cellar window that doesn't lock. If there wasn't, I wouldn't be down here. I jump up from the mattress too fast, and it makes me dizzy and makes my head hurt. My head still hurts a lot. I try not to think about it, but it's still pretty bad.
There's a kind of alcove created by mattresses stacked against the far wall. I hide behind those mattresses. And I try to decide what to do with my voice. Should I make it high, trying to pass for a woman? Or go deep, like a much bigger, much older guy than I am? Or just be me? I guess I'm looking to put on some authority.
I go deep. "I called the police!" I yell. Praying they can't track the direction of the sound. "I can see what's going on out there. I already called the police."
For a moment the whole world goes quiet and still. I can almost hear my heart pounding.
I peek around the mattresses. I still can't see the back of the alley very well in the dark, but I can see well enough to know that the scene of the actual rape is motionless. Just a lump of two figures frozen. And I can see the feet at the end of the alley and they're not moving, either.
I realize I've probably done all it's in my power to do, and it might not be nearly enough.
Then something miraculous happens. Actually, I don't guess it's fair to call it a miracle when it happens dozens of times a night. I listen to sirens all night here. Fire trucks, ambulances, police cars. Always an emergency close by. Back-to-back disasters, all night long. But the timing of this one is something like heaven. Or at least mercy.
The guys run away. All of them. And I come out of hiding.
I watch to see if the girl is going to be okay. She takes a minute getting up. One of her shoes is knocked off, and she looks around for it. Her jeans are only on one ankle but she worries about the shoe first. She moves off toward the end of the alley looking for it, and I can see her as she bends down to retrieve it. She's no older than I am. She's tiny. I wonder if I should go out there and see if she's okay.
Before I can even move she comes in through the window that doesn't lock. Drops right down into the cellar with me. Like she knew which one to go through all the time. Her jeans are still off except for that one leg, and her panties got ripped off, or she never had any, so she's more or less naked from the waist down, just standing there in a hooded sweatshirt, staring at me. She doesn't seem the least bit surprised that I'm here. She's blond, with that long, perfectly straight hair that girls used to kill for in the sixties. Or so I've been told. A little younger than me, I think. She looks about sixteen but she's small for her age, or younger than I think. Pretty, with good bones in her face. Like she belongs someplace better than this. Then again, who doesn't?
"Hi," she says. She steps back into the other leg of her jeans and pulls them into place.
"You okay?" I ask.
"Oh. Me? Yeah. Sure. Sure. I'm fine."
She says it in a kind of distracted tone, like she has to keep reminding herself what we're talking about. I'm thinking maybe she's loaded, but her motor skills seem fine. She's putting her shoe back on now, a dirty white sneaker with the laces knotted and broken away.
"Yeah. Sure. Fine."
From the Hardcover edition.