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Love in the Present Tense Hardcover – May 30, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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!
Jan
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I never am disappointed with Catherine Hyde's novels. I am sad to think of what I'll read after I am finished with all of them. Her novels are unique in that I can never predict what's going to happen next. Her stories uplift and show the loving side of humanity. That reaching out with love and caring makes a difference in the world, as scary as that is. This book touched my heart.. She has written such heartfelt characters. The depth of love the mother has for her son, and the reaching out and caring of Mitch, a young man who has compassion and an open heart. She can take you into their world with their thoughts, feelings with such an intimacy, the characters become real. I recommend it highly.
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By Rose Lamatt on November 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I finished this book today, and can only say, 'Wow'. Catherine Ryan Hyde is a wonderful writer. Makes you think. Makes you wonder. Makes you see yourself in her words. But in the end she answers all the questions you had while reading. This story showed what love is. How it can not be mistaken for anything else that imitates love. In reading this particular story it taught me things I never have thought about. You'll enjoy her writing, and the way the chapters change to forward and backward. I've read nine of her books and have not been let down at any time. This one though, hit home for me. Hope you enjoy it as much as me.
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