Book Talk: When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I swear to god, I have to stop reading books about abandoned children.

The boy’s story begins in the woods, where his mother abandons him to die on the day of his birth. In a very fortunate coincidence, a man named Nathan and his dog happen upon the baby while duck hunting early the next morning. Nathan rushes the baby to the hospital and, against all odds, the baby survives.

With no kids of his own, Nathan requests to adopt the baby but custody goes instead to his biological grandmother, an older woman who had no idea her daughter was pregnant. And so the child and man’s paths diverge indeterminately, with one exception: the grandmother names the child Nat.

We watch as this baby grows into a distraught child searching for answers about his past. When asked specifics, his grandmother even years later is never quite honest about his birth. Nat senses the mystery, and learns to distrust even his closest relative. Nat becomes a dramatic, troublemaking adolescent, desperately seeking for someone to be reliable and, most importantly, honest.

The one consistency in which he takes solace becomes the mysterious packages Nat receives on his birthday and Christmas every year, without fail, from a man he does not remember meeting, or saving, him.

This is a sentimental look at the complicated formation of a young mind. The writing is good but the story failed to completely draw me in. Lots of potential here, but I found myself detached from the emotional rawness.

This novel’s got one of the same central themes as Y – namely a young person’s search for the truth about his/her birth – but it’s not as compelling. So read that instead!

Spoiler alert.

Eventually, Nat’s behavior becomes so difficult that his grandmother decides to ask Nathan if he will take responsibility for the boy. Always reliable and honest, Nathan quickly agrees.

When Nat is sentenced to two years in juvenile detention, Nathan stays by Nat’s side. When Nat finishes his juvie stint, Nathan invites Nat into his home. Inspired by a pair of boxing gloves he received from Nathan as a young teen, Nat decides to pursue a career as a professional boxer, and Nathan chooses to support his dream.

This is a story about the power of reliability and honesty. It is only when Nat asks Nathan about his birth that he can finally begin to trust. And it is only when Nathan proves to Nat that he will always be there that Nat can begin to believe it.

Book: When I Found You
Author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Type: A baby boy abandoned in the woods searches for a source of stability.

Not sure what a 2/5 star rating means? Check out the Book Talk Review Guide here.

What do you think? Let me know below!

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