What I read
Catherine Ryan Hyde is a good read no matter what–the plots are simple, yet compelling; the characters, rich; the resolution, straightforward. (I wrote about two other titles here and here.) Her novel Walk Me Home didn’t disappoint. The story opens with sisters Carly and Jen running away from home in the dead of a cool night in New Mexico. They are supplied with a backpack each, a $20 phone card, and two bicycles. Mom and her boyfriend died in a car crash the day before and the girls have no one. Sixteen-year-old Carly suspects Child Protective Services will close in on them soon, but she is certain they’ll find safety if only they can reach their ‘step-father’ Teddy in California. They leave the bikes behind pretty quickly (eleven-year-old Jen crashed hers) and start to walk. And walk. Across the Southwest desert, no less, following the roads, hiding in culverts, and begging money for candy bars from gas stations to keep themselves fueled. They are hot. Sunburned. Thirsty. Blistered and exhausted. But Carly is certain Teddy is their savior. (Jen–for reasons we eventually find out–is silent on the matter.)
The girls are near death when they are finally rescued by Delores, an elderly Native American woman, who feeds them, gives them shelter, and puts them to work around her property to pay off their debt. While Carly is wary and lashes out at Delores, Jen settles in quickly, relieved to finally have a safe place to call home. Jen loves the work and the animals. She finds a grandmother in the old woman while Carly sees only a jailer. Carly eventually sets out to find Teddy on her own–and the story takes a more serious turn when she discovers the truth behind Jen’s reluctance to reunite with Teddy.
Walk Me Home is a satisfying coming-of-age story–perfect for a quick weekend read.
What I lived
Last week I flew the coop. (Figuratively speaking!) January was a difficult month with a loved one’s Covid illness and the worry and financial impact it brings. It’s been months since I’ve visited face-to-face with friends. Home life can be complicated. And it was suddenly just too much. So four days, three nights, and nineteen hundred miles later, I landed myself in Tucson to visit with my son and his family. The drive was character building, to say the least, what with lake-effect snow, freezing rain, and freezing fog. It was just me, myself, and I for hours and hours, and I came to think of Red Semi and RV-With-The-Bikes as friends along the way. (That, and the NPR radio hosts I listened to as I jumped from city to city and station to station.) I learned, once again, that I can do hard things. And I must say I thought about those little girls Carly and Jen an awful lot. Which got me to thinking just how many novels involve a journey and then I remembered teaching The Odyssey all those years ago and I decided we are all of us just putting one foot in front of the other and … well, such are the meandering thoughts when a day’s drive covers five hundred miles.
It’s lovely here in the desert Southwest. A cool (?!) 70 degrees. Sunny. And oh-so-full of loves. My end game is not sightseeing, but reconnecting with my sweet six-year-old granddaughter Luna whom I last visited just as the shut downs began in March a year ago. (You can read about that trip here.) By my first full day here I had the Grand Tour of the Barbie Dream House, went shopping for dinner fixings, picked out her birthday gift–a sewing basket of her very own!–and stitched what she is calling her ‘sewing basket gnomes’. Today will be more of the same, I’m sure. (Did I mention it’s sunny here?)
Life is good.