Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Seattle: Union Lake Publishing, 2018. 374 pages. ****
Faith serves her husband with divorce papers and escapes his reaction by going to her father and stepmother's beach house. She wakes during the night to see a young girl sitting in a lotus position on the sand in front of her house wearing a tank top in the chilly fog. Sarah, fourteen years old, recently lost her mother and is currently living with her Grandmother at the beach. Sarah feels lost since her world has been turned upside down and her father has sold her horse to pay his gambling debts. Faith has walked away from her marriage without a plan, just the need to survive and find the person she once was before marrying Richard. An unlikely friendship is formed between the two women based on the need for friendship and self-preservation.
Hyde has a writing style that is easy to follow and allows the reader to escape into a world where the good guys prevail. While some may feel that allowing Sarah to go away with Faith, a stranger, may seem unrealistic, I'd like to think that we haven't totally become a cynical, suspicious people. Hyde suggests that we follow our intuition when it comes to others; Faith had a legitimate reason to be wary of the man in the supermarket who turns out to be her next-door neighbor.
I have read and reviewed several of Hyde's books and have always enjoyed them. They are somewhat formulaic in their plot and in their message of "hope." Hyde's love of animals shines through her books and in this particular one; Sarah's horse Midnight is key to the story. While reading this book, I was reminded of Allie and Bea, that same feeling of friendship, trust, and there are good people in the world. My favorite of hers is Heaven Adjacent; it was so relatable for me. When you are looking for a feel good book that you know will end well, Hyde is the author for you.
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World.
Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in over thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015.
More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored by the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O’Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.
She is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. Visit her at www.catherineryanhyde.com.