This is the story of a little boy called Leonard and how he grows up without his mother after she disappears when he is just five years old. He is brought up by his neighbor, Mitch, whose own life is changed and greatly enriched (surprisingly, to himself) by the presence of Leonard.

The book isn’t quite the gentle read that I presumed it would be, it is quite shocking in places particularly with the details of Pearl’s hard life and the disturbing situations she has seen and experienced. Pearl is a very single minded and courageous character, however, and becoming a teenage mother she is determined to give Leonard a better and safer life than the one she had. Even when she disappears from his life, she still influences his thoughts and beliefs both seeming to, at times, hold him back and encourage him forward.

Leonard becomes obsessed with the fact that he knows so little about his mother and therefore himself, he does not even know his real surname or who his father was. Although he has other people in his life who love and care for him, this obsession to ‘find’ Pearl and to discover more about her affects his judgments and life choices.

The two main themes in the book seemed, to me, to be love and death. Love in respect of the different types of love there are and that Leonard learns about, and the ‘forever love’ that Leonard believes in. Death in respect of whether someone who has died can still be around us and can be felt in things such as candle flames and rain, as Leonard believes, and how this belief can then influence the people left behind grieving.

I liked the way the story was told by three different people; Leonard, Mitch, and Pearl, and at their different ages, as it was interesting to see the same situation from different characters’ perspectives.

I enjoyed the book; it was a bit darker and more challenging than I was expecting and I thought it was intelligently written with detailed characters.

Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)

By (author): Catherine Ryan Hyde

Mitch is a 25-year-old with commitment issues. Leonard is a five-year-old kid with asthma and vision problems, who captivates everyone he meets. Pearl is Leonard's teenage mother, who's trying to hide a violent secret from her past. Life has given Pearl every reason to mistrust people, but circumstances force her to trust her neighbour, Mitch.
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