Fiction, Historical, Illness, Loved-it, NetGalley

A New, Unexpected But Very Heart-Warming Story From Catherine Ryan Hyde My Name is Anton: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Writing yet another review for a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde makes me feel dejavu. Every couple of months a new book of hers comes out, I instantly grab it despite any other review commitments, and I never regret it. So far, all her books have just been so good that I can’t resist reading them as soon as possible. My Name is Anton is no exception – another strong story of a human bond in challenging times, and the power of selflessness, love and care. For 2020, it’s such a heart-warming read – I really missed reading something as warm and sweet as that. It just felt like a warm blanket in the form of a book!

My Name is Anton: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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★★★★✰ 4 stars
How I read this:
free ebook copy through NetGalley

Anton has had a terrible year – he lost his brother and his right hand. He’s also recently lost his grandfather. Now his parents’ marriage is falling apart, and nothing is like it used to be. Anton has taken a gap year from college and his parents have left for a vacation to try to glue everything back together, and so he’s left all alone in the apartment for the holidays – just him and his new telescope which won’t show any stars anyway, because of the cityscape of New York.

But through pure chance, Anton becomes witness to a domestic incident across the street. He really worries about the woman he saw in danger, and can’t stop himself from pursuing to check in on her, to see that she’s okay. And that’s the start of something that may change both of their lives.

Content triggers: violent suicide, domestic violence, losing a hand (amputation), losing family, neglectful and estranged parents, PTSD, adoption and losing fostered children.

Tough, Though Ordinary Lives

Catherine Ryan Hyde always picks people with big challenges to write about. It’s always someone who’s lost a close person, or someone who is different, and is struggling to be accepted. A lot of times it’s someone who is dealing with an illness, be it mental or physical, and is cut off from what we deem to be ‘normal life’ because of it.

So each time I pick up a book by her, I wonder what it’s going to be this time. How can an author continuously just pull these amazing setups from the magician’s hat and never come up with the same ones? How long can she keep doing it?

And yet, with My Name is Anton, she does it again. Anton is a boy who’s suffered multiple losses, and has also become an amputee, struggling to reconcile his old and his new lives. Edith is a woman, trapped in an abusive marriage and unable to get out of it for a lot of different reasons.

Both these characters are very distinct and what I love about Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing is that she never has token characters – her stories always have fully fleshed out people.

Those people often suffer from multiple problems, not just one. Aside from their ordeals, they have to deal with small, mundane issues like housekeeping, money, chores, everyday tasks. They have ordinary relationships and ordinary days, but it’s all shown through their lens.

And this is what makes the stories special – because you realize that ANY ordinary life has its own problems. More than that, you are not safe in your little ‘normal’ life, like many of us mistakenly assume.

Tragedy can strike anyone. Which is why we must cultivate empathy towards everyone else, especially people who have it harder than us. That is the lesson Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books teach most often.

What I love about @cryanhyde’s writing is that she never has token characters – her stories always have fully fleshed out people. My Name is Anton is no exception: Click To Tweet

Finding Your Voice

In this book, the main character Anton has to find his voice – both figuratively, and in some cases even literally. He has lived all his life cushioning others, trying not to be in the way, hoping they will understand that he’s not fine and accommodate him the way he does it for others.

But the the thing is, others almost never do. To the point of where Anton is suffering terrible PTSD for very real and serious reasons, but his closest family members refuse to see it. They also refuse to let him get help, because “it’s embarrassing”. So Anton doesn’t just have to fight his own submissive nature, he also has to stand up to people he thought it was always rude to even think of standing up to.

It’s a tough and sad story seeing how Anton has to grow up the hard way. It’s also wonderful seeing him develop his voice and not let others walk over his life anymore.

My Name is Anton is a story about many things – one of them is finding your voice, learning to stand up for yourself. @cryanhyde writes it wonderfully: Click To Tweet

Really Inspiring Characters

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s stories have definitely struck a chord in my heart, but I do understand they might not be for everyone. And the reason I like them best, ironically, may also be the reason why some people might not like them. This reason is that the characters in her stories are inspiring, but in a very particular way.

I have always been a very straightforward person, and maybe even naive. Which makes me fall HEAD OVER HEELS for CR Hyde’s characters every time! The thing is, yes, they do make mistakes, but at the core of their hearts, at least the main, central characters’ hearts – there is always only kindness, and they always want everything to be for the best. They try, despite their frail humanity, to be more than human, to be immaculate in their kindness.

I believe that for some readers, and I certainly know several such people in my circles, this will not be as touching and inspiring as for me. It may be that some people, when they see such a “goody” character as Anton, it might just feel like he’s too good to be true, or worse yet – spineless, or even an affront to the reader (for not being so “goody”). So like I say, these kinds of inspiring characters may not be for everyone.

But for me, these characters are so precious – they are perfect. They are what I strive to be, and what I like seeing, even if sometimes I truly do wonder whether these people exist. But then I read some inspiring stories on Quora and realize – they MUST exist. Only they’re not so common. But the news is always full of negativity – so why not read a book about someone who is doing kind deeds?

@cryanhyde's characters never fail to inspire with their kindness, integrity, warm heart. They are a great antidote to the negativity of the news! They're just like that in the new book, My Name is Anton: Click To Tweet

My Name Is Anton Was Delightfully Different

Oh, this is so hard to write and not spoil. I’ll put down spoiler tags. It’s not a huge spoiler and other people are posting it all over their reviews but… I’d rather be cautious.

Thing is, all other books by Catherine Ryan Hyde that I’ve read so far have not been romance-related. Like, I’m sure after reading like 3 or 4 books I can’t definitively say it about all the rest of her extensive bibliography – that there’s no romance or anything – but generally, CR Hyde writes about ‘the human condition’, with romance taking a backseat, if not being completely absent altogether. But in My Name Is Anton, we had romance! And it was quite central!

It was still a completely soft and innocent romance, and it fit perfectly into CR Hyde’s style. But it still ticked all the other boxes – it had some serious societal challenges, and it dealt with trauma resolution, so that part of the ‘formula’ is still there! But the romance bit was a pleasant surprise, and a change of pace from all the other books of hers I’ve read. I really enjoyed it!

My Name is Anton by @cryanhyde had a pleasant surprise – a turn in the story that's not quite what you expect! What a treat. Make sure you check it out: Click To Tweet

Overall...

I don’t believe I’ve ever said anything else about a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde, but I enjoyed My Name is Anton a lot. If you’ve liked her previous books, I’m sure you’ll like this one too. It’s another story about integrity, kindness and selfless love – although with a flavor that I haven’t seen in the past 3 or so books I’ve read of CR Hyde’s! So this story has all the right elements, plus a little surprise in its make-up. What’s not to love?

I thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.

My Name is Anton: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Mridula Gupta
17 days ago

This sounds like a heart-warming story!

RO
RO
14 days ago

Never heard of this author, but it sure sounds like a very interesting and thought provoking read. Great review! Hugs and Happy New Year! RO