Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
Have you ever watched that show What Would You Do? Would you be the one with enough guts to stand up for someone being swindled or abused? Would you help someone in need? Or would you just walk away? We would like to think we would do the valiant thing, but if faced with a real situation, how would we react?
When Raymond Jaffe is posed with one of these situations, he can’t just walk away. Raymond is a teenager who feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. His mother is remarried and he doesn’t feel he fits in with the new family dynamic. His father’s girlfriend certainly doesn’t like him. His one and only friend in the world is moving across the continent. But when an elderly blind woman stops him in the hallway of his building asking if he has seen a man named Luis Velez, instead of walking away like his friend, he sees a woman in need of help and goes to her.
It seems Luis has been Mildred’s caretaker for some time now, helping her to the store and the bank and just spending quality time with her. But Luis has been missing for some time now and Mildred is not only worried about him, she is running out of money and food. Raymond decides he must help Mildred. But he doesn’t just help her to get supplies, he finds her a companion in a cat he rescues but cannot keep. And he decides that he will find Luis Velez.
Raymond’s quest to find Luis Velez an area as big as New York City leads him on quite the journey and puts him in touch with a diverse group of people – all with the same name. But most importantly, it pulls him out of his shell, helping him to find himself and just where he fits in. His friendship with Mildred and his various adventures leading to a surprising discovery about the man he is searching for help both Raymond and Mildred grow, both in mind and spirit.
Catherine Ryan Hyde is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. A gifted storyteller, Catherine Ryan Hyde has a way of captivating the reader, presenting them with a character they can relate to and root for and placing them in situations that present an opportunity for growth. In Have You Seen Luis Velez?, Raymond learns to revel in all the ways he is different from others. As his journey to find Luis Velez continues, we can see Raymond grow. Whereas in the past, disappointments would drive Raymond further into his shell, we watch Raymond realize that these setbacks are only challenges to be overcome. We witness a beautiful friendship grow between Mildred and Raymond that surpasses age, race and religion – a tale we could use in the hard times we have been experiencing of late.
Have You Seen Luis Velez? is an uplifting coming of age tale, but it is also a tale about hope, community and love. Definitely a must-read!