Pay It Forward ), evidenced in her emotional sixth novel. Featuring a tough tee"/>

Love in the Present Tense

Catherine Ryan Hyde, Author . Doubleday/Flying Dolphin $21.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-385-51800-0

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)

Reviewed on: 03/06/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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