Thursday, February 18, 2010

With Reverent Hands: Love in the Present Tense

With Reverent Hands 

I bring you with reverent hands / the books of my numberless dreams. 
-WB Yeats, "A Poet To His Beloved"

WB Yeats, I'm sure, gave books to his beloved that he valued highly himself, and that he handled with reverence.  If you had to recommend a book you revered to someone, what would it be?

I'm asking you to highlight one book.  One book that you adore, that you prize, that changed your life, that you would save from a burning building, that you found serendipitously on a library shelf or at a used bookstore, looking lonely and ignored.  A book that thrills you but that, you have come to realize, no one else has really ever heard of, much less read.  With Reverent Hands is all about those books- the ones that deserve a wider audience than they are given and that you want everyone to go out and read, even if they are out of print.

If you would like to participate in With Reverent Hands, please comment on this post and I will send you a template! 
This week's guest post is by Leah at Amused by Books.  Leah is lucky enough to live in the fabulous city of San Francisco, where she spends much of her time reading a wonderful array of fiction.  She recently wrote a post about her Top Five Romantic Reads- you should go and check if you agree with her assessment!

Leah is also hosting a giveaway of the novel below on her blog, so if you just can't wait to snatch it up... head on over there for a chance to win!

What book are you highlighting?

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde

When did you first read it?

I first read it last October after reading about it on some list of recommended books somewhere on the Internet. I don't even remember where so it was a totally unexpected, yet a completely wonderful find!  It was by far, my favorite book of 2009.  I still don't think I've read a book to match it.
Love in the Present Tense
What is it about? Please give a brief summary.

I guess the best place to start would be at the beginning, and the beginning is with Pearl. Pearl is the mother, an unexpected one.  At 13, she has had a hard life, when she falls pregnant and accidentally shoots the father.  However, she has her son Leonard and manages to get him to the ripe age of 5 pretty well, all things considered.

While she is off cleaning houses Leonard meets the neighbor Mitch.  Mitch is just a 25-year-old dude who works from home on his Internet start up business.  Since he and his three employees are home all day he suggests to Pearl that maybe it would be a good idea for Leonard to stay at his house during the day since there would be plenty of people around to make sure Leonard is well cared for.  All is good until one day Pearl doesn't come home.  What's Mitch, a 25 year old guy, having an affair with a senator's wife, running a start up business, supposed to do with a 5-year-old?

Well, Leonard teaches Mitch all about love.  An unlikely pair maybe, but sometimes those are the best kind.  Mitch has to learn how to parent Leonard and Leonard has to learn how to deal with the hardships of childhood.  They grow up together and the writing and storyline are beautiful and heart wrenching.  You just wanted to root for everyone in it.  I usually don't cry when I am reading a book but something about Catherine's writing and sweet Leonard moved me so much that I actually cried.  Seriously, if I had a rating beyond 'Grade
A' I'd give it!

What makes the book stand out to you? Why do you love it?

What made this book stand out to me was how, without giving too much away, you don't normally expect a 25 year old single guy to care for a kid.  Not even the drop everything come move in with me and let's help out this poor teenage woman but even just the, I could babysit for an hour.  This isn't to say anything bad about men.  It's just that you don't expect young, single men to really be into kids and Mitch isn't creepy or anything, he was just helping his neighbor out.  Maybe it has to do with reading it during the rough patch of a crap economy and
everyone losing their jobs and really needing to help your neighbor out but this message really resonated with me.  The relationship that grows is wonderful.  It really does take a village to raise a kid.

Please finish this analogy:  If you liked _____________, you'll probably enjoy this book.

It had similar tones to me as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon or The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingslover

What sort of person would you recommend to read this book?

I think mothers especially or anyone who loves children would find this book wonderful.

Do you have any quotes you would like to share?

Here's a conversation between Leonard, age 5, and Mitch, age 25, that made tears spring to my eyes.  I understand that out of context it may not be as powerful, but work with me a little!

"Do you know what forever love is?" - Leonard
"I don't think so." -Mitch
"Pearl taught me. It's when you love somebody so much that no matter what happens that'll never change.  Like even if you're gone.  It's still the same.  Even if you die.  You die, but not the love.  Not forever love.  Know what I mean?"...
He reached out and put his hand on my chest, feeling around for a heartbeat.  Pearl must have done this with him, I thought.  A kid this young doesn't make this rituals up on his own.  Or does he?  I wasn't sure.  When he was sure he had my heart, he held his hand still, and it felt warm against my skin.  "That's how much I love you, Mitch.  Okay?  Do you feel better now?" Then a second later he said, "I didn't mean to make you cry, Mitch."
"No, it's okay.  It's a good thing.  Thank you.  Thanks for the forever love. It helps."
"Yuh", Leonard said, "I know."


  1. Anonymous2/18/2010

    This sounds touching - I love it that one of the questions is "If you loved X, you'll love this". I loved both Curious Incident & The Bean Trees, so adding Love in the Present Tense to the list!

  2. I would love to blog in this series :-)

  3. Wow.. this book definitely sounds beautiful!

    Thanks Leah, for this great description and recommendation of this book.

    Aarti, as always, thanks for doing this series! I've found all the recommended books interesting.

  4. Anonymous2/18/2010

    I thought Rosie's Riveters was great but I'm loving this new series. It's great to find out about books that people treasure that may not be in the mainstream. Please send me a template as I'd like to write a post for this series.

  5. I think I read Kingsolver for an Eng.lit class, and liked yes could give this a go :)

  6. I liked this question and answer format. I also have the book (unread thus far). Great gave and take to both of you. Thanks

  7. This sounds like a wonderful read and the quote made me tear up a bit. I think this is just the type of read I could fall in love with, so thanks for sharing it Leah, it is certainly a book to consider for the future!

    Aarti, I would love to participate in this feature, so please send me the template. Thanks!

  8. Sounds like a tear-jerker, I'll have to pick this up.

    Also, I love me some Kingsolver!

  9. I have a book I have picked up not once but twice, from a second-hand bookstore. It's odd, but is available on Amazon. I'd be interested in participating in this.

  10. I'm intrigued by the description of this book ... and I wonder what happened to Pearl!!

    This is a great series.

  11. This sounds fabulous.

  12. This sounds incredible! I wanted to read it from the second sentence forward.

    I love this feature as well. I'd love to participate, but I think I want some time to really think about what book I'd want to highlight. Great feature!


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