Don't Let Me Go - Catherine Ryan Hyde

Genre: Fiction
Ten-year-old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. And there's only so long Grace can fend off the 'woman from the county' who is threatening to put her into care. Her only hope is... Grown-man Billy Shine hasn't been out of his apartment for years. People scare him, and the outside world scares him even more.  Until now. . . Grace bursts into Billy's life with a loud voice and a brave plan to get her mum clean. And it won't be easy, because they will have to confiscate the one thing her mum holds most dear . . . they will have to kidnap Grace.


Review: I went into this novel knowing very little about it except that its apparently a great starting point for dipping into Hyde's bibliography, and I have to say it has definitely left me wanting to pick up more.

Hyde somehow manages to take quirky, potentially cartoonish characters and make them credible. An agoraphobic former dancer was the most relatable character in the novel for me - and I'm far from either of those things! But the authentic portrayal of anxiety and uncertainty, physical symptoms of panic, resulting from facing the things that trigger his disorders - these are things I can relate to and which made him such a human character. Similarly for each of the others, while I could not necessarily relate to their situations or experiences, I could relate to their attitudes because they are such genuine people.

The story was almost cinematic, I could easily see it playing out beautifully on the big screen - dealing with some heavy issues, but never getting too heavy in and of itself, rewarding the reader with some happy but not unrealistic outcomes. I could honestly see the fabulous late Robin Williams having done a spectacular job of playing Billy (when he was a bit younger). That's not really relevant to the book or this review, except to say that the book has those heart-warming and heart-wrenching qualities one associates with a Robin Williams film.

The only reason I didn't give this book the full five stars was what I felt were slight pacing issues. It felt a little over-long to me, for a book which, at the end, tore through such an extensive series of events in just a few pages. It certainly tugged the old heartstrings a little, but it was too much in too short a space to make me really absorb the sense of time or change. All the same, a thoroughly immersive and extremely rewarding read that I would highly recommend.

Rating: 4/5

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