Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.0 MB
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of several highly acclaimed novels including the award-winning Pay It Forward (which was made into a feature film starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt), Love in the Present Tense (a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller), Chasing Windmills, When I Found You, Second Hand Heart and Don’t Let Me Go.
Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.
Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.
Out of one terrible moment, Brooke’s and Molly’s desperate paths converge and an unlikely friendship across generations and circumstances is formed. With it, Brooke and Molly will come to discover that what’s lost—and what’s found—can change in a heartbeat.
It started that day with just the normal levels of my mother driving me crazy. Which, don’t get me wrong, is plenty bad enough. And some leftover feelings from the odd conversation I’d had with the young woman at my daughter’s new day care might have factored in.
I’d picked Etta up at day care after my work, at about five thirty, and it was the first time I’d seen the place. It was only my baby’s third day there.
My mother had been taking her in and picking her up, at least for the first two and a half days. But then she’d started complaining that it was too much for her “old bones.”
I guess it sounds strange that I hadn’t checked the place out first with my own eyes. But I was dealing with a stress fracture to my psyche, thanks to my mother, that sprang up midweek. And three entirely unrelated people had recommended this as the best place in the city. And my phone and internet experience with them was stellar. Also, my mother would have been the first to point it out if the place wasn’t up to snuff. It’s not like me to fall back on her judgment. But if there’s one thing I can trust her to do, it’s judge.
The yard of the place was on the side of a hill, shaded by trees. Terraced, so the kids had nice flat areas to play, with steps in between. On different levels I saw giant sandbox complexes, swing sets, riding toys. A building pad where two boys were constructing a small city of giant blocks.
It was late in the season, so nearly dark outside, a heavy dusk, but the yard was well lit.
My eyes flew directly to my daughter. She was sitting on one of the riding toys, a bright red plastic horse with a black “flowing” plastic mane. It wasn’t a rocking horse, exactly. It was attached by springs to a solid metal frame. It had handhold pegs below each ear, and nice wide platforms for little feet where the stirrups would be. She could bounce up and down on it, or rock it back and forth just a few inches, imitating the gait of a galloping horse.
Etta was doing the latter.
I had dressed her that morning in red tights—almost exactly the color of her horse—and a striped tunic. A light wind was blowing the curly brown hair off her face. And she was lost in utter concentration. She hadn’t even noticed me yet. I wondered how real the ride felt in her head. If her horse was galloping along a sandy beach or down a grassy hillside.
She was so beautiful it hurt to look at her. But I did anyway. In fact, I couldn’t stop.
The young staff member came up behind me. I didn’t notice her until she spoke, so it startled me a little.
“I like the way you look at her,” she said.
I smiled a little. At least, I think I smiled. I meant to. I said, “Don’t all mothers look at their kids that way?”
“Ha!” she said. “I wish.”
Then we watched the girl in perfect silence for a time.