BECOMING CHLOE by Catherine Ryan Hyde book review


If you think your life is all f*cked up then I recommend this novel to you. Because it will make you realize how beautiful life is. If you’re life isn’t as f*cked up as all the others, then I still recommend this book. It will make you realize what you’ve been missing.

This is one of the books that I would want to read right before I die – or so, that’s what I thought when I read it. It’s not the epitome of all literary writings for me but the word to describe it is beautiful.

It’s a novel about a very unlikely couple Jordan and Chloe (a.k.a. Wanda Johnston). It’s a love story, but not the traditional one between a girl and a boy. Jordan is a seventeen year old gay who had been beaten up by his father and disowned by the rest of his family and Chloe is an eighteen year old retarded (I think that’s the word for it) girl, who has gone through very traumatic experiences in life and is very depressed. Like Jordan, she has no family. It’s a heart rendering sacrifice of Jordan to make Chloe realize that life is worth living. It’s very redemptive and will make you realize the capacity of the human soul to love. Life is beautiful in so many hidden ways. If this novel doesn’t make you cry then you are as cold as concrete stone.

They met when Jordan witnesses Chloe being raped. In a way he rescued her and she rescued his life too. Although they are not linked romantically, there’s something in their life together that makes them perfect for each other. They needed each other to see how beautiful life is despite being homeless, being disowned by their families and having no money at all. Can you imagine your life like that and even wanting to live? I can’t.

Chloe being smart but somewhat not in the right mind is provided for by Jordan. Just like a husband to Chloe, Jordan provides for her, takes care of her, and makes her happy all the time in every possible way. Although in reality, they’re not really together romantically. Well actually, you can also consider Jordan as the parent and Chloe as the child.

All the while reading this novel, it made me think that there is more to life. I may not have money, I may not have seen many places, I may not have witnessed extravagant moments, but it’s the small things in life that counts. I know there is at least one person in this world that loves me and that already makes me lucky. I’ll tell you a fact; I know there’s more than just one. And I’m sure the same goes for the person who is reading this.

Here’s my favorite part of the novel:
I was thinking at first that it would’ve been a lot
easier to believe in the beauty of things if that hadn’t
happened. But now I feel like anybody can think the
world is beautiful when it’s all going their way.
That’s just like untested faith. But when you’ve got
one eye swollen shut and you still know it’s better
than it is bad, then you’re onto something.
My conclusion is this: It’s a beautiful world, but
also a scary one. I used to think something couldn’t
be both. But then I remembered the point of no return
on the Niagara River, and how much it fascinated
me as a kid. Because it was just that: beautiful
and scary. It’s like once you get that sense that there’s
no real security, that anything at all can happen to
you, then every minute you’re okay is a joy. Part of
the joy is feeling like you can make your way in a
world that isn’t always easy.

It’s a part of Jordan’s letter to Chloe’s former psychiatrist. When he mentioned that: “But now I feel like anybody can think the world is beautiful when it’s all going their way. That’s just like untested faith. But when you’ve got one eye swollen shut and you still know it’s better than it is bad, then you’re onto something.” –That made perfect sense. Everybody can say that life is beautiful but have you realized that most of the people who say that haven’t gone through the worse of life enough to really mean it? To really own up to it? I mean I can say that but it won’t mean as much when a person who had gone through the battering of life, mentions it.

I have to admit Ms. Catherine Ryan Hyde is not exactly my favorite author but I’m all hands down for “Becoming Chloe”.

Also Ms. Hyde is able to describe the places they’ve been in precise detail as if I am taken to those places too. Like Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Big Sur and so much more. I’ve never been there but my imagination took me.

Its eight out of ten stars. I recommend this to sixteen years and up. Some parts of it may contain sexual scenes (although not detailed). So I suggest parents and teachers read it first before you let your children and students read it.

Here’s a part of the novel:
Her head pops up and she watches the snow for a minute.
Then she throws the covers back and runs out the back door, still in her nightshirt with her feet bare. I’m thinking maybe she’s planning on making snow angels in her nightshirt, in which case she’ll freeze. She’ll get frostbite for real. I watch out the window and she runs across the yard to the dog run and opens it and Bruno comes waddling out to greet her. Then she brings him back into our apartment.“What are you doing, Chlo? Bruno never gets to come in the house. You know that.”
“He’ll get cold.”
“He’ll also bite me.”
“No, he won’t. Watch.” She leads Bruno by the collar over to our bed. “Bruno, this is Jordy. Be nice to Jordy. Give him your hand, Jordy.”
Reluctantly, I hold one hand out for him to sniff. He sniffs it, licks it once, then flops down on the rug beside the bed with a deep sigh. Smart dog, I think. He knows if he bites me, he’s back out in the snow. Chloe climbs back into bed with me. Her feet are wet and freezing. I make her give them to me so I can rub them until they warm up. So she doesn’t get frostbite.

Jordan is so sweet and I hope I can find a friend like him. Every Chloe deserves a Jordy. And Every Jordy deserves a Chloe 🙂

~ by TM on September 21, 2009.

One Response to “BECOMING CHLOE by Catherine Ryan Hyde book review”

  1. 🙂

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