Sep 4, 2008

Book Review: Chasing Windmills

CHASING WINDMILLS is the story of Sebastian and Maria, two young people living in New York City whose lives are ruled by someone else. They are simply going through their young lives doing what they're told to do and thinking what they're told to think. Sebastian is a seventeen year old who lives with his controlling father who home-schools him. He's never been allowed to have friends or do things normal kids do. His father has forced his opinions on him with a strict hand and has raised Sebastian in a most unnatural way. Now that he's getting older he begins to wonder about the world beyond their apartment. He finds a friend in Delilah, an older black woman who lives in their building, who takes an instant liking to this overly sheltered young man. They secretly go on daily walks and she opens his eyes to the possibility that there are other ways to live. They form a bond and Sebastian finally has the trusted friend and confidant he has longed for.

Maria is a young woman in her early twenties and has two kids with a man she's been with since she was fifteen. Carl is the only man she's ever been with and he is going to make sure it stays that way. He watches her every move and if she does anything to provoke him or make him question her actions, there is a price to pay. Maria has resigned herself to the fact that this is the way her life is going to be forever. Her sister, Stella is her only living relative and she's very outspoken against Carl and his abusiveness towards her younger sister, but she's powerless to change it, mostly out of fear of what he would do to Maria.

One night while riding the subway to escape their controlled lives even for a little while, they lay eyes on each other for the first time. They feel an instant attraction and connection. They don't speak, but each of them returns to the subway the next night in hopes of seeing each other again. And they do see each other. In the days to follow they start talking and even though they know very little about each other, they are willing to risk everything to spend time together. One day after a close call with Carl, they make a decision that will change both their lives forever.

I was thrilled when I received an email from Catherine Ryan Hyde asking me if I'd like to read and review her book. I had just learned that she was the author of Pay It Forward, the book that was made into a movie starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey. Even though I didn't read that book, I knew the movie was amazing and all amazing movies begin as amazing books, right?! As soon as I started reading, I felt connected to Sebastian and Maria and I liked who they were. However, I think my favorite character was Delilah. Her interaction with Sebastian was so caring but not pushy. She was exactly what he needed and she knew just how much to give. We never really learn a lot about her, but we know she's a wise woman and she takes her friendships very seriously. Maria also has a strong woman in her life as well with her sister, Stella. You figure out pretty quickly that she calls 'em like she sees 'em. I like her quirky Tarot card reading and also that she doesn't really care what people think of her.

The story is told by Sebastian and Maria in alternating chapters, each from their own perspective as if they are talking to the reader. That enables you to really get to know them. The chapters are not long which makes for a quick read and also makes it nice if you get interrupted or have to stop often. The storyline moves along nicely and never drags. The plot was very good and well thought out. I love the writing style of Ms. Hyde. There's no fluff, just substance. Aside from the love story between Sebastian and Maria, there were other things happening that give depth to the story. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say, this is not just a love story. It's also a story about choices, consequences and forgiveness. Another thing I loved about this book as a reader is that it didn't have a predictable ending. I hate predictable! In this case, you didn't know what was going to happen until close to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I want to thank Catherine Ryan Hyde for sending it to me. It is definitely one of my favorite books so far this year. I would describe it as a poignant, off-beat romance that is very refreshing. I encourage those of you in book clubs to add this to the list of choices for your club. I assure you there would be interesting discussions based on the material.

One of my favorite things about reading a book is that moment when suddenly you figure out what the title of the book really means. That is an AHA! moment for me and I love it! My AHA! moment came pretty early on in this book and it all just clicked. Before reading the book I couldn't figure out what windmills had to do with New York City. I've never actually been there, but I'm pretty sure, there's none there.

If you'd like to learn more about Catherine Ryan Hyde and her other books, please visit or check out her My Space page here.

Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Flying Dolphin Press
Published: March 2008
Pages: 272
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!