2010 · Book Reviews · Fiction

Love in the Present Tense, Catherine Ryan Hyde


Published: 2007 by Transworld Publishers | Pages: 302

So much of how it was started when that cop got out and came up to me. But I didn’t know all this when it first happened. I didn’t know there would ever be a Leonard, or that this man would be his father, or that anybody would have to die.

Leonard is an eerily wise five-year-old boy with asthma and vision problems, who captivates everyone he meets.Pearl is Leonard’s devoted teenage mother, desperately trying to hide a violent secret from her past.Mitch is Leonard’s 25-year-old neighbour, busy running his own company and entertaining the Mayor’s wife.Then one day, Pearl drops Leonard off with Mitch and never returns.

How do you go on loving someone who isn’t there? As truth and fiction, memory and dreams collide, Mitch finds himself learning from a surprising source the true, magical definition of love.

This book really is an emotional journey to places you never thought you’d visit. For me, the character of Pearl was difficult to imagine. The characterisation is brilliant of her as at the beginning of the story it is difficult to fully understand her broken up language. Hyde has cleverly used this to portray Pearl’s lack of education and understanding of how cruel the real world can be.

Throughout the story, Hyde addresses prostitution, murder, love affairs, naivety, grief, unconditional love and how love as hundreds of sides to it – some good and some bad and corrupted.

As the reader discovers the random killing of the policeman who fathers Leonard, we realise that Pearl is completely naive. She had no idea what she was doing. I think this is also made clear throughout the first few chapters where any passages involving Pearl seem to fleet from one event to another, which in turn gives the feeling of confusion and how she is lost and has no adult guidance to show her what is right or wrong.

The character of Mitch is used to portray the lusting and cheating side of love. Due to the synopsis basically describing the entire plot line, one clearly understands what is happening. Leonard’s character helps the reader to be constantly reminded of how much Pearl loved him. He represents the unspoken side of love, a side that is always there. Unconditional love – a mother’s love for her child.

By including the accidental murder of Leonard’s father, and Pearl’s murder, Hyde provides the scenes for the reader to understand truly what revenge is, in terms of love. An event which happened by chance ends Pearl’s life viciously and leaves Leonard alone. This single idea gave the whole book a poignant aura for me. I felt that the things that Leonard refers to – feeling Pearl’s presence in a candle, her speaking to him when he is almost drowning – portrays the side of grief which only some people experience. One can tell that Leonard is desperately trying to not accept the inevitable.

For me, this book is brilliant. Admittedly, its not exactly the type of book you want to snuggle up with time and time again, well for me it wasn’t. But the events that occur throughout the book, all lend themselves to the readers’ own interpretation and allows them to revel in emotions that maybe they have never felt or thought about before.

A thought provoking and harrowing read. A definite good read if you’re an addict of emotive writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s