An Amazon Charts bestseller. Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat–on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost. When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go–until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path. Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family–and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.
I have previously read, enjoyed and reviewed a couple of books by Catherine Ryan Hyde, the first was Say Goodbye for Now back in December of 2015 (see review HERE) and the second was Ask Him Why back in January of 2016 (see review HERE). Since I liked both of her other books, when I saw this one, Allie and Bea, I was eager to read it.
Allie and Bea begins with Bea, being fleeced of her remaining money by a con man. Bea is a tough woman in her seventies, and she’s left with limited options. She decides that she and her old cat, Phyllis, are going to live in her deceased husband’s bakery van and head up the coast of California so she can try and find a place to put down roots.
And then there’s Allie, a “strong-willed” 15-year old teenager who is in the Child Protective Services program in California because her wealthy parents have recently been arrested for tax fraud. Allie’s placement in a group home proves to be dangerous and Allie has to escape from multiple potential predators – one of them wants to physically harm her, and the other intends to sell her into the sex trade. As she is able to get away, she and Bea encounter each other and ultimately decide to team up and take an adventure up the Pacific Coast.
This is a story about two homeless souls and their discoveries in life. The story also reminds us that families are not always those people who are related to each other but instead can be individuals who encounter each other along the path of life and connect with each other. Allie and Bea’s relationship is the perfect example of the latter. This is a story of love, friendship and loss, of two strangers that ordinarily wouldn’t have been together, just trying to reach a destination while avoiding the pitfalls along the way. The characters are well written, the story is believable, and it’s warm, funny and sad, and I loved it!
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 30 published and forthcoming books, including Leaving Blythe River, Ask Him Why, Worthy, The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With Yo, Where We Belong, When I Found You, Walk Me Home, Second Hand Heart, Don’t Let Me Go, and When You Were Older. She is an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, and has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos From A Beautiful World. Ms. Hyde is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How To Be A Writer In the E-Age: A Self-Help Guide. Her novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released Pay It Forward: Young Readers’ Edition in August of 2014. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original Pay It Forward was released in December of 2014.
More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O’Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories. She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation, and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. For more information, please visit the author at catherineryanhyde.com. You can also find Ms. Hyde on Twitter and Facebook too!