ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction

Just a Regular Boy, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

AVAILABLE May 2, 2023

I’ve read several books by Catherine Ryan Hyde and, while they often seem to follow the pattern of pairing a child in distress with an unlikely adult companion, that is where the similarities end.

In this novel, five year old Remy is forced to live in the wilderness with his survivalist father as they both mourn the loss of Remy’s mother. Conditioned to think that the world’s societies are crumbling and all remaining humans will be killed or enslaved, Remy fears everyone outside their makeshift camp. But when he finds himself completely alone and must depend on others or die, he discovers the extremes in his father’s thinking. Embraced by a foster family with an especially determined and intuitive mother, Remy learns Life’s actual truths. Yes, the world is a tough place and bad things happen, but when you are loved, validated, protected, and wanted, it can make all the difference.

Catherine Ryan Hyde never fails to amaze me with her unique stories. Once again her young protagonist is wise beyond his years but with an emotional fragility that only love can heal. The character development is excellent. The theme of trust vs fear is very strong throughout, making readers examine their own lives and insecurities.

If I had one criticism, I would say that the COVID theme with its “we’re fine, we’ve been vaccinated” is a bit heavy-handed at times. The author lives in California, where that is very much the way of thinking, but the story takes place in Idaho, where beliefs are more varied. I wish that ideology had been fine-tuned more to match the setting. Overall, though, this is a special book that I would definitely recommend to others.

9/10 Stars

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