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Love in the Present Tense Hardcover – May 30, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Uniting vivid, needy characters in unlikely relationships is Hyde's specialty (Pay It Forward), evidenced in her emotional sixth novel. Featuring a tough teen, her sweet son, and their flawed but sincere neighbor, each take turns narrating their story in fresh, distinct voices. At thirteen, Pearl lives with a kind prostitute while her mom copes with a crippling drug addiction. In one tragic night, Pearl gets herself pregnant and accidentally kills the father, a police officer; on the run, Pearl decides that she and her son, Leonard, will share a "forever love," an unbreakable and unconditional bond. Pearl protects Leonard like a lioness, shielding him from the dangerous world and the tragic story of his father. At five, Leonard—smart, loving and saddled with a degenerative eye disease—stays with 25-year-old next-door neighbor Mitch while Pearl works; when Pearl disappears, Mitch must assume responsibility for Leonard—not easy to do while maintaining a home business and an affair with a client's wife. Despite Pearl's mysterious departure, Leonard stays true to her "forever love," denying that he has been abandoned. Mitch isn't so sure, and when Leonard begins having his own doubts, they both must re-examine their beliefs. Hyde excels in sentimental, utopian storytelling, and though it isn't as sharp a hook as "paying it forward," her story of a love that transcends time, place and human weakness is a worthy successor. (May)
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Streetwise Pearl is 13 when she gets pregnant and accidentally shoots her baby's father, a police officer. Over the next five years, she and her son, Leonard, move from place to place as the teen worries about repercussions from the killing. Her past catches up with her, and, when she disappears, the boy is left with their neighbor, 25-year-old Mitch. Narrated in the alternating voices of the principal characters, this novel is an examination of relationships and special bonds. As close as Leonard becomes to Mitch over the years, he never stops feeling Pearl's presence in a tangible way: her forever love for him. He contrasts this with what Mitch calls love: a long-term relationship with an older married woman that seems hurtful to all involved. Both Leonard's and Mitch's outlooks on love are flawed, and it is not until they almost lose everything that they recognize how completely they have transformed themselves into a family, and how remarkable their attachment is. While somewhat predictable, this is a sweet story that will be a hit with readers who enjoyed Hyde's Pay It Forward (S & S, 2000).–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Flying Dolphin Press; 1st edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385518005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385518000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 30 published and forthcoming books, including WORTHY, THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS, TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHERE WE BELONG, WHEN I FOUND YOU, WALK ME HOME, SECOND HAND HEART, DON'T LET ME GO, and WHEN YOU WERE OLDER. New Kindle editions of her backlist titles FUNERALS FOR HORSES, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER AND OTHER STORIES, ELECTRIC GOD, and WALTER'S PURPLE HEART are now available. Also available is THE LONG, STEEP PATH: EVERYDAY INSPIRATION FROM THE AUTHOR OF PAY IT FORWARD, her first book-length creative nonfiction.

An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has just released her first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

Her best-known novel, PAY IT FORWARD, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD was released in December of '14

LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the bestseller lists, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards. Both BECOMING CHLOE and JUMPSTART THE WORLD were included on the ALA's Rainbow List, and JUMPSTART THE WORLD was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. WHERE WE BELONG won two Rainbow Awards in 2013.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation, and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information, please visit the author at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on July 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This story revolves around three main characters: Pearl, a teenage, single mother, her frail (health-wise) son Leonard, and Mitch, the single, male neighbor. Pearl disappears one day and Mitch takes over care of the boy.

Mitch seems an unlikely father - he is involved in his own business and in a long term affair with a clients wife - but somehow he takes to Leonard from the very first and even after Leonard is adopted, can't let him go.

This book is beautifully written - lyrical and sparse in style. The chapters alternate between the voices of the three characters and are not in chronological order - so the reader gets hints and clues as to what happened and what is going to happen. Hyde does a great job building up the suspense. But as wonderful as all that was - it was the characters themselves that drew me in and held me in the story. Even after I finished the book, they are staying with me and I want to hear more about them.

This is a really touching book - without being sappy. I would love another book with these characters.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the sparse yet beautifully expressed prose Love in the Present Tense is when love, family and commitment arrives in the most unexpected places. When one morning the young Pearl drops her young son Leonard off with Mitch, her next-door neighbor and never returns, Mitch is unanimously left to pick up the pieces.

Pearl is a single mother who absolutely adores Leonard and she has tried to construct a loving, if unconventional family around him. But her affection and devotion is tempered by a calamitous past, for Leonard was a child born of chaos and murder. When she was thirteen, a white cop in Los Angeles, picked her up at a bus stop, and pretending to drive her home, seduced her.

In her adolescent anguish, Pearl confuses his kindly but casual intentions with love. The encounter turns deadly. Upon discovering he has his own family, she shoots him with his own gun right between the eyes, "where he stood with no pants on." The damage is well and truly done, the legacy of that fateful night forever etched in time. Pearl knows she is pregnant, "I had that baby in me, just of that night, and I knew it."

Time passes, Pearl moves on and Mitch - who makes a lucrative living as a website developer - is left to look after the young Leonard, to feed and clothe him and pay for an emergency eye operation to prevent the boy from going blind. Even when Mitch is forced to give Leonard up and he is fostered out to a kindly - but poorer couple - Leonard still views Mitch as his chief unofficial guardian, his dependable mentor and best friend.

Both Mitch and Leonard end up needing each other in a special way. For Leonard, certain things he remembers are permanently engraved in his psyche.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 10, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Some author's names on a dust jacket will immediately catch my attention - one such name is Catherine Ryan Hyde. For this reader/listener, Funerals for Horses and Pay It Forward were imaginative, can't-put-down stories that revealed workings of the human heart. She write with authority and perception, always telling a tale that holds deeper meanings.

Listeners to this audio edition read by a gifted ensemble cast will find themselves pondering the importance, the meaning of family and the transcendental quality of love. The narrative is propelled by each of three voices as Pearl, Leonard and Mitch offer their perspective on what life has brought to them.

In the beginning it seems as if Pearl never has a chance. Her mother is a drug addict and Pearl becomes pregnant at 13. Not only does she become pregnant but on that same night she accidentally kills her child's father. So begins a life on the run as she tries to protect her son, Leonard, who is born with an eye disease and preternatural wisdom.

As fate or luck would have it when Leonard is five their neighbor is Mitch, a young man who operates a home business. The boy is left in his care while Pearl works. However, one day Pearl does not come home leaving Leonard to wonder if there really is such a thing as "forever love" as his mother had promised, and Mitch to try to adapt to his new role as a quasi parent.

As always, Hyde tugs on heartstrings as she tells this story of three needy people with poignancy and insightfulness.

- Gail Cooke
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jan Gunter on March 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I'll just cut to the chase and give you this quote that is the theme of the book: "I think if you walked every minute of somebody's life in his shoes then everything he did would make sense to you, even the bad things." (p. 255) As my friend, Lynda says, noboby does redemption better than Catherine Ryan Hyde.

This was my first book by Catherin Ryan Hyde, and I'm off to the library to check out another one this afternoon.

Read it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Hanson on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the story of three intersecting lives - Pearl, Leonard, and Mitch. Pearl's an adolescent girl who, though struggling to raise her young son alone, has the strength and maturity to teach her child the true meaning of love. When she mysteriously disappears, her young son Leonard is left in the care of their neighbor Mitch - and the two forge a bond as strong as any.

Alternating between the first person of Pearl, Leonard, and Mitch, the author weaves together past and present, unraveling her characters' lives in rich emotional detail.

LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE is about real love - between parents and children, between friends, between romantic partners. It's about the ease or difficulty people have experiencing and expressing love.

Catherine Ryan Hyde's writing is a pleasure to read, and her story's a gem. What more can a reader ask for?
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