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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing
The story revolves around a charming little boy called Leonard whose young mother is desperate for an equally charmed life for him. However, in the way of that is her lack of family and the violent secret she is running from. She disappears when Leonard is 5, leaving him in the care of a sweet neighbour called Mitch. He is in his mid-20s and doesn't know much about...
Published on 13 Mar. 2007 by Zannie

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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love - all that it is and all that it should be
This is yet another selection for the current Richard & Judy bookclub. If it hadn't have been on their list, I doubt I would ever have chosen to read it. I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it - I wasn't expecting to.

The story is about 3 characters - Pearl, a teenage mother; Leonard, her son; and Mitch, her neighbour. The book is narrated by each of...
Published on 18 Feb. 2007 by Brida


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing, 13 Mar. 2007
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This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
The story revolves around a charming little boy called Leonard whose young mother is desperate for an equally charmed life for him. However, in the way of that is her lack of family and the violent secret she is running from. She disappears when Leonard is 5, leaving him in the care of a sweet neighbour called Mitch. He is in his mid-20s and doesn't know much about looking after young children, but they rub together to make things work.

The tale is boldly told and the book is refreshingly concise. There is little room for saccharine sweetness or weepiness, with the result that Leonard does not come across as a tragic little boy, despite everything that is thrown at him, but a little star that everyone wants to succeed. The relationships he forms are powerful and focussed, enabling the author to flow between decades freely without losing the emphasis or momentum of the prose.

Leonard becomes increasingly focussed upon finding his mother as he grows older and seems to be unable to be truly happy until he does. Mitch is his greatest friend because he understands this, treating Leonard's ideas without prejudice throughout. Whether and where he finds his mother is something for the reader to discover - I have no interest in spoiling any plot.

The only reason I have not given this book 5 stars is because at the end of the book Hyde chooses to switch from her very effective writing style to a letter device. This is not a device that I am generally keen on because it is normally done badly - it is only usually effective at the opening of a novel, such as with E M Forster. I thought it let Hyde down a little. However, I'm still very glad I read it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love - all that it is and all that it should be, 18 Feb. 2007
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
This is yet another selection for the current Richard & Judy bookclub. If it hadn't have been on their list, I doubt I would ever have chosen to read it. I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it - I wasn't expecting to.

The story is about 3 characters - Pearl, a teenage mother; Leonard, her son; and Mitch, her neighbour. The book is narrated by each of these characters, so the reader is able to gain their different perspectives.

Pearl begins the narration, describing a night as a young girl, when she witnessed a man being killed. This shocking image by Pearl really sets the tone for her following pieces of narration - it quickly becomes clear that Pearl has had a hard upbringing; her parents seem to be barely there for her, so much so that when Pearl is 13yrs old, she is approached by a young policeman, who has a drastic effect on her life. As she says, that is really the start of everything.

The 'everything' is that, when Leonard is 5yrs old, Pearl drops him off at Mitch's house and does not return.

Ultimately, this book is about love. Leonard, throughout his childhood does not doubt that his mother loved him - still loves him. He believes that, although she is not there physically with him, she is there in a whole other way; he sees her in the flame of a candle and within the sound of the ocean. But, if she loved him so much, why did she leave him? And why did she never tell him who his father was? Leonard does not even know what his surname is. As the story progresses, it examines how a belief in 'forever' love is able to keep Leonard believing in his mother's devotion, and so therefore enables him to also love his mother in spite of her absence.

Although this book did not really deal any major surprises or twists along the way, what I liked about it was the characterisation of Leonard. The way his mother had brought him up, even in just those short 5 years together, enabled him to have a well defined idea about love and what it should be. As Leonard comments on the reltionship that he witnesses Mitch having with a married woman, there are quite profound and very truthful insights into the nature of love between adults. For example, Leonard catches them hugging in Mitch's kitchen, and he describes actually feeling their need as though it was a type of hunger. As he watches them he asks himself, "If this is love, why does it look like it hurts?" (p.155).

I would recommend this book for a light read, but don't expect to be totally blown away. Although it was good, it did not leave me on the edge of my seat.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and haunting, 12 Jan. 2007
This is a gorgeous book. I laughed and cried at Leonard - he is a unique character and you can't help but love him from the first moment you meet him. This novel really makes you think about how we love and grieve, and how we all need something to hope for. The ending was really exhilarating and moving and I will definitely be looking out for more books by Ryan Hyde.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unconditional Love, 20 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
Thirteen-year-old Pearl was waiting at the bus stop when the cop got out of his car and came up to her....... So starts a sequence of events that will have far reaching effects on a number of lives! A memorable story, beautifully written and the 'forever' love it portrays overcomes its sadness. All readers will quickly grow to love Leonard - Pearl's remarkable 5-year-old son, and Mitch - the 25-year-old next door neighbour, has an endearing personality. Pearl passes the gift of 'forever' love to Leonard and, from him, Mitch learns all about it. This novel has a dark side, but it's essentially a story of real love - the unconditional and selfless kind.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful..., 21 Oct. 2007
By 
LittleReader (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
Do you know when you read one of those books that you truly find difficult to put down and when finished, leaves you feeling utterly emotionally drained? Well, this is one of those.
The heartbreaking tale of Leonard, who at just 5 years old, loses his mum, Pearl. She leaves and never returns. Luckily, Mitch is there - a neighbour with a big heart - who picks up the pieces and guides Leonard through his life and his search for inner peace.
I think what makes this novel so wonderful is the characterisation - it's simply flawless - you are under Leonard's skin from the first few chapters and have an overhwelming need to remain there until you find out what happened to Pearl. I would have starved and not slept all weekend if I hadn't had this book prised from my fingers!
Easily the best Richard and Judy read this Summer...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought it was lovely, 20 April 2009
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
I started reading this book when I went to bed at around eleven, and I finished it at 2.30am. I found it a very compelling read - I felt totally taken up by the lives of the characters and equally heartbroken and heartwarmed by them. I loved Pearl's bits best - such a plucky and dignified child with such a tragic story. I also liked how the same scenes were played out from different points of view and with the brush strokes of memory changing things - I think it's an interesting concept that a situation can be different depending on who is observing it, and can also be different in our memories from how it was when we actually experienced it.I haven't started reading another book yet as I'm letting this one resonate with me a little longer. I would recommend this book heartily. I'm just after reading a fairly heavy going book set in an Irish convent (The Land of Spices by Kate O'Brien) so Love in The Present Tense was like a breath of fresh air after that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crafted tale of love - past, present and forever, 8 Feb. 2009
By 
R. Swanton "Beckstar" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
After reading the first chapter I thought I was not going to stick with this book, but I am glad I continued as what followed was a moving and compelling tale of a boy's unlimited love for his absent mother.

So what was wrong with the first chapter? Ok, let's dispose with the negative. The book is written from various perspectives - the first chapter is written from the viewpoint of Pearl, the teenage mother of Leonard. As she is poor and uneducated her viewpoint is written in a common American accent. I am not a fan of "writing in accents" (Lional Shriver is in the habit of doing this rather badly) and it was a bit like wading though treacle. However, it was relevent and once dispensed with the rest of the book was wonderful.

For a 5 star review this is taking a rather negative slant, so I will get on to the good bits. The characters are the most compelling element of this book. Leonard, the abandoned 5 year old, who believes his love for his mother can transcend time, distance and disappearance. Mitch, the successful but shambolic young man with a heart of gold - his character develops beautifully thoughout the book as he develops an attachment to the insightful Leonard. Finally there is Pearl, Leonard's mother who, despite being absent physically for most of the book, is still present and significant, especially to Leonard. These three main characters, despite their flaws, are all loveable and you care deeply about what happens to every one of them.

The story is beautifully compelling and told in such a gentle manner. The book contains various moving moments, it does not just save it for one big emotional climax at the end - frequently I found myself moved to tears, which is something not many books have managed to do. I do not want to say anything more about the plot itself as I feel it will spoil the way it gently unfolds.

Even if you are not a fan of tales of love, I defy you to not be moved by this book. An absolute must read, but make sure you have a nice cosy chair and a box of tissues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You just have to love Leonard, 19 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
As the title suggests this book is about love. There is the love of a mother for her child, the love that develops between the child and the young man who cares for him after his mother's unexplained disappearance and the love between this young man and his older, married, girlfriend.

The story is unusual. Pearl, a very, very young and very tough teenager becomes pregnant one eventful and tragic night. She loves Leonard, her son, deeply and cares for him as long as she can, but she disappears one day leaving him with Mitch, a neighbour. Most of the book covers the period of Leonard's growing up. He doesn't know what happened to his mother but he constantly feels her presence as he believes the "forever love" she told him about. Leonard is an unusual child, which is unsurprising given his start in life, but he is a character you just have to love! He is small and asthmatic, has problems with his eyesight, and is a target for every bully in the school, but he toughs it all out. He is as devoted to Mitch as Mitch is to him, and he seems to understand Mitch's illicit relationship with Barb better than Mitch himself.

I don't know why I haven't read this book before. It has been on my shelf for ages. It's a great read and the story will haunt you for some time. I shall definitely look out for another book by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving tale of 'forever love', 22 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
I wasn't sure about this book when I first started reading it, the narrative style is quite different to an average novel, but once you get used to this and the characters start to develop it's un-put-downable. Now I think one of the strengths of the book is the interesting way that the story is told through different characters eyes at different stages of their lives. This builds the tension as the novel progresses and you share the discoveries with the characters. Heartwarming and moving this is also a quick read for those that don't have all that much time on their hands.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 5 May 2008
By 
L. M. Satherley (Bristol) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Love In The Present Tense (Paperback)
I bought this book really cheap on a whim and i'm glad i did. it is one of the best books i have read in a while, i just could not put it and finished it in less than a day. you genuinely feel for all of the characters and are hoping that everything will turn out ok. the central relationship between Leonard and Mitch is really touching. read this book and you will lose yourself in it.
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Love In The Present Tense
Love In The Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Paperback - 14 Jan. 2007)
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