Monday, May 5, 2008

Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Sebastian is 17 and isn't allowed to leave his house all because of an overprotective father. The only times he escapes are when he goes running (only allowed because of doctor's orders) and when he sneaks out in the middle of the night. Maria is 23, with two children and an abusive boyfriend who happens to be the father of the two children and the only boyfriend Maria's ever had. She's terrified of what he'd do to her if he found out she lost her job and isn't going to work those nights she leaves the house.

So when they meet on the subway during their secret nightly rides, they instantly get caught up in a romance that could either leave both of them with nothing--and possibly dead--or have them whisked away to something more, something sudden, something forbidden.

It's dangerous to plot, but one night Sebastion (aka Tony, courtesy of Maria) asks Maria to go away with him, run away to the Mojave desert where he recently found out his grandmother lives. To the windmills he so desperately misses and she so desperately longs for. Where they both can be safe and happy. Fearless.

But in a story known as a modern-day rendering of West Side Story, nothing can be perfect. They fight to get there, and when they do can they stay? Can they really start over and forget everything? Can they really build a new life on their love?

Chasing Windmills isn't West Side Story. It is--in my opinion--infinitely better than that, as classically told as the original, Romeo and Juliet. But one of the best elements about Chasing Windmills is the similarity to both of those stories; the ultimate tale of love and pain. It's an interesting evolution, especially as we come to the end: Romeo and Juliet leaves both lovers dead, West Side Story spares only Maria, and in Chasing Windmills, both survive- but love depends on more than just survival.

Catherine Ryan Hyde writes with raw, strong, realistic feeling. The writing captivated me immediatly, with it's graceful style and incredible word choice. The style is very characteristic of the inside of a teenager or 23-year-old's head. Short, incomplete sentences, contradicting thoughts, flaring emotions.The relationships in the story were fascinating: the bonds between Sebastian and his controlling father, Maria and her abusive boyfriend, as well as the less central relationships, like Sebastian and his friend Delilah's.The romance between Maria and Sebastion turned out to be the best fictional relationship I've yet to read about. The Bella/Edward romance is sweet because it's dangerous and forbidden, but the Tony/Maria romance is even more dangerous and forbidden--not to mention illegal--because it's real. It's happening. It could happen.

It's scary. It's well-told. It's perfect. In every sense of that impossible word, it's perfect.

Like I said, I'm getting a bit tired of the constant fives, but there is no way I can't give this amazing work of literature the full 5/5 cups of coffee. The new Folgers my sister brought home that enables me to drink coffee every Saturday and Sunday which I couldn't do before because all we had was hazelnut and I hate hazelnut.

♥Heather (with pieces and parts of Caroline)

btw, this is our first ever collaboration review where we actually incorporate both our reviews together. could you tell?
oh yeah, and there will be an interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde herself in a day or two. Look for it!


ambeen said...

I keep reading such great reviews for this book! I'll have to check it out sometime. :)

BooksandLove said...

Oy! Your review makes me want to read it so bad....

lovinglife said...

The film deal on Chasing Windmills is just closing and the screenplay being written as we speak!