The simplicity of prose might indicate nothing more than purity of heart, and the talk about "forever love" might be nothing more than a deeply felt reaffirmation of love that lasts forever. (It's only the mean kids in the back row of the class who are snickering.) What you feel about Love in the Present Tense, then, will depend entirely on who you are. Don't be so quick to dismiss this. Love can sucker-punch anybody, anytime.
The Washington Post
Uniting vivid, needy characters in unlikely relationships is Hyde's specialty (Pay It Forward), evidenced in her emotional sixth novel. Featuring a tough teen, her sweet son, and their flawed but sincere neighbor, each take turns narrating their story in fresh, distinct voices. At thirteen, Pearl lives with a kind prostitute while her mom copes with a crippling drug addiction. In one tragic night, Pearl gets herself pregnant and accidentally kills the father, a police officer; on the run, Pearl decides that she and her son, Leonard, will share a "forever love," an unbreakable and unconditional bond. Pearl protects Leonard like a lioness, shielding him from the dangerous world and the tragic story of his father. At five, Leonard-smart, loving and saddled with a degenerative eye disease-stays with 25-year-old next-door neighbor Mitch while Pearl works; when Pearl disappears, Mitch must assume responsibility for Leonard-not easy to do while maintaining a home business and an affair with a client's wife. Despite Pearl's mysterious departure, Leonard stays true to her "forever love," denying that he has been abandoned. Mitch isn't so sure, and when Leonard begins having his own doubts, they both must re-examine their beliefs. Hyde excels in sentimental, utopian storytelling, and though it isn't as sharp a hook as "paying it forward," her story of a love that transcends time, place and human weakness is a worthy successor. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Streetwise Pearl is 13 when she gets pregnant and accidentally shoots her baby's father, a police officer. Over the next five years, she and her son, Leonard, move from place to place as the teen worries about repercussions from the killing. Her past catches up with her, and, when she disappears, the boy is left with their neighbor, 25-year-old Mitch. Narrated in the alternating voices of the principal characters, this novel is an examination of relationships and special bonds. As close as Leonard becomes to Mitch over the years, he never stops feeling Pearl's presence in a tangible way: her "forever love" for him. He contrasts this with what Mitch calls love: a long-term relationship with an older married woman that seems hurtful to all involved. Both Leonard's and Mitch's outlooks on love are flawed, and it is not until they almost lose everything that they recognize how completely they have transformed themselves into a family, and how remarkable their attachment is. While somewhat predictable, this is a sweet story that will be a hit with readers who enjoyed Hyde's Pay It Forward (S & S, 2000).-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The author of Pay It Forward (2000) proves she has some staying power with this sad-funny love triangle of neighbors and caregivers who alternately tell their story over the course of 25 years. The actions of a brave 13-year-old part-black, part-Korean girl named Pearl Sung get the narrative moving with a bang: Waylaid by a cop who seduces her, she shoots him dead with his own gun after they have sex, and the ramifications will haunt her the rest of her life. Pregnant by the officer, she has to raise a visually handicapped boy with asthma, Leonard, who will take up his own side of the story once Pearl disappears from his life at age five. Leonard is left largely in the care of downstairs neighbor Mitch Devereaux, a 25-year-old computer programmer running his own software company out of his apartment. Mitch is sympathetic to Leonard's solitary plight, and cares for him for years before he can be adopted by the kindly couple Jake and Mona; to flesh out the unorthodox household, the mayor's wife, Barb, a fetching older woman, appears irregularly to sleep with Mitch, while Mitch maintains the mayor's computer system during his congressional campaigns. Each of the protagonists, Pearl, Leonard and Mitch, take turns telling their sides of the story, and as they age, the denouement is satisfyingly suspenseful. Sparked with humanity and a lively vernacular.
“A beautifully rendered tale about the power of love.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch“If you love Pay It Forward, The Notebook and The Five People You'll Meet in Heaven, this novel will envelop you like a fuzzy blanket.”—USA Today“Using spare, simple prose, Hyde explores the nuances of love. . . . Arresting.”—The Charlotte Observer “An enthralling take on the enduring bonds of family.”—Life