Second Tuesday Book Club will meet in-person from 7 to 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library, for our discussion of Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde . We will observe social distancing, with face coverings recommended. Please email Cathe Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments. See you at Schimelpfenig Library soon!
Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Available as Print
“As they spun on the second-floor landing, Raymond heard an older women’s voice call out to them. “Hello?” Raymond stopped in his tracks. Andre kept going.
“Is someone still there?” the old woman asked. “Do you know Luis Velez? Have you seen him?”
Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez? Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.
Kirkus Reviews said this: “A master of making a heartwarming tale feel authentic and socially urgent, Catherine Ryan Hyde deftly sketches the plights of Raymond and Millie, weighting their friendship with worries and regrets that echo as true. That authenticity often lies in the silences that Hyde lets linger when Raymond tries to process a compliment or Millie simply is present with her grief. A tender tale of new families born of chance and the determination to bring light into darkness.”
Novelist Barbara Delinsky read this novel for her private book group, and, in a review on her website, noted, “The voice is that of Raymond Jaffe, a socially challenged 17-year-old, who answers the cry for help of the 92-year-old woman who lives two floors down in the apartment building where he lives with his mother, step-father, and their kids. Set in New York City, Have You Seen Luis Velez? still manages to feel intimate. Though it deals with loneliness, it is far more about compassion, about prejudice and bias and poverty and wealth and race and religion. Sound like too much? I didn’t find it so. … There is nothing extreme or preachy about it. Indeed, Mildred is the guiding force Raymond needs. Actually, her plight guides him, and in helping her, he helps himself.”
“I don’t know if I can speak for why it’s important to readers, but I expect that on some level most of us know how it feels not to have the human connection we need.”
Novelist and short story writer Catherine Ryan Hyde is a native New Yorker who now lives in Cambria, California. She is the author of 44 novels, many of which are published online. Her books are generally “optimistic explorations of ordinary people, characters who are troubled or down-on-their-luck or recovering from past difficulties or abuse,” and she has indicated that some of the situations in her novels reflect her own difficult early life. Her novel Pay It Forward was made into a feature film in 2000; it starred Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt, and Kevin Spacey.
She is active as a public speaker, on social media, particularly on YouTube and Facebook, and as a blogger via her website. She also enjoys travel, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and a fairly new hobby, astrophotography.