Nathan and Flora McCann have no children. That was their arrangement. But when Nathan goes duck hunting and finds an abandoned baby boy in the woods, his life changes in unimaginable ways.
“I want to adopt that boy,” says Nathan.
“Don’t be absurd. Neither one of us is very fond of kids. We made up our minds against them,” she replies.
“No, you made up your mind against them. You decided for both of us.”
Nathan keeps the next thought to himself: “You simply didn’t say, to the person who has shared her life with you, that her company was not enough to fulfill you.” These thoughts foreshadow an awakened drive in Nathan to do something meaningful with his life.
The custody decision is made without Nathan and his wife when Ertha Bates, the grandmother, claims the baby. Despite the closure, Nathan feels an inexpressible connection and makes her promise to one day introduce the boy to him. He tells her, “I want him to know me…I want you to introduce me, and say to him, ‘This is the man who found you in the woods.’” Ertha reluctantly agrees and, in a weak tribute to Nathan, names the baby “Nat.”
Fifteen years later, the grandmother has had enough and turns the boy, now a difficult teenager, over to Nathan. Nathan promises to never give up on the boy, despite a series of inconceivable challenges.
I enjoyed this book very much, which takes many unpredictable turns. Catherine Ryan Hyde hasn’t just written a story about endurance. She has created Nathan McCann, a symbol of patience, careful words and steadfast loyalty to a promise. But this book isn’t just about Nathan. The author also does a great job showing Nat’s point of view and highlighting the contrast between his bad choices and his need to be loved.
Hyde has a plain and refreshing writing style. She introduces her characters through dialogue and simple activity, with a few teaser physical descriptions, as if to highlight instead the importance of their words and actions. In addition to a message about commitments, she includes lessons about self-worth, being truthful and pursuing dreams. Nathan says some very wise things:
The value of your life is your own choosing.
I feel that the truth is simply the truth. And that to shield someone from it is only a manner of treating that person with a lack of respect.
You can’t tell someone to pursue their dream only if it’s a good match for your own.”
When I Found You is a touching and refreshing change. It is appropriate for a Young Adult reader, but its appeal extends into a wider group, proof of quality writing. Hyde has written a great many books and I’m looking forward to picking out another!
Thanks for visiting – come back soon!