Book Review: When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde


Synopsis: Nathan McCann goes hunting one morning and finds an abandoned newborn. The newborn, Nat, survives, and is given to his grandmother to raise. When Nat is 15, he ends up in trouble and goes to Nathan’s house to live. What follows is Nathan’s struggle to raise Nat, and Nat’s struggle to deal with his past. The story also involves Nat’s dream to become a professional boxer.


Review: When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde of Pay It Forward fame is a compelling, touching read. I read this book for my book club, The Page Turners, and it was the first Catherine Ryan Hyde book I’ve read, and I’d like to read more of her work.

When I Found You is told from the perspective of two different people and takes place over many years, from 1960 to 1990. As far as I can tell it is set in Ohio. I don’t recall it ever specifically stating the location, but one character does mention going to Akron at one point and it not being all that far away.

The story is told by Nathan McCann, an older man who discovers an abandoned newborn in the woods one morning. The story is also told by Nat Bates, with Nat being the abandoned newborn.

Nathan wants to keep Nat, but Nat’s grandmother comes forward and Nat goes to live with her. Nathan and Nat’s stories converge once Nat turns 15 and his grandmother ends up dropping him off at Nathan’s house for him to raise. Nat is a very difficult teen and ends up in legal trouble, and has a lot of anger issues and resentment due to various reasons.

Besides being difficult, Nat also has a dream of being a professional boxer. Now I’m not a big boxing fan. I don’t follow the sport, nor do I understand why anyone would want to be a boxer, but this book handled the sport well and the boxing sections didn’t bore me. They didn’t excite me either, but I think the main thing here is that I wasn’t bored by the boxing scenes.

The older Nathan is a good character. However, I never got the sense that I knew him. You don’t even find out what he does for a living until at least halfway through the book. There seemed to be an air of melancholy around him, especially in regards to his relationship with his first wife, Flora. Nathan’s a nice guy, and goes well above and beyond what he is expected to do in regards to Nat, but there was a wall there for me, the reader, in regards to Nathan.

Now in regards to Nat, you know everything about him! You feel his sorrow, his anger, his joy, and his mistakes. Oh, do you feel his mistakes! I just wanted to reach through the book and tell him NO at certain places. I didn’t particularly like Nat, but he was interesting and I felt for him and wanted him to succeed.

I don’t know that I would’ve picked this book up had it not been my book club’s selection this past month. I did enjoy reading a book told from a man and a boy’s perspective; that was a bit different for me.

Bottom Line: Touching and compelling coming-of-age tale involving boxing.

Links to When I Found You on Goodreads and Amazon.

Have you read When I Found You? Does it sound interesting? How about any other books written by Catherine Ryan Hyde?


10 thoughts on “Book Review: When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  1. I really enjoyed this book, and, like you, would probably not have picked it up myself. I always find it interesting that I become so frustrated with characters who do not “just say it” when they should express their feelings (IMO), yet I am terrible about it myself in my life. I guess that just goes to show that the characters have the problem I have and serves to make them more realistic. (?) Anyway, I was frustrated by several characters inability or unwillingness to be more honest, i.e., I was invested in the characters and where things were going.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes – the characters were so frustrating! I could see what they should do and then they just didn’t do it. Or talk about their issues, etc. But, like you, I still was invested in the characters and wanted the best for them. Even if they did really frustrate me at times.


  2. I would feel confused and pick the book to death with questions, like how do they know who the baby’s grandma is, and did the author really have to give the main characters the same name, and died that mean we are to read them as reflections out mirrors into past and future, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The same name actually wasn’t all that confusing when reading the book, but we discussed this book at my book club meeting last night, and I was confused as to which character we were talking about at times. The characters made some really bad decisions so that was frustrating to read.
      And I totally understand about the typos – I don’t use my phone for comments which is why sometimes it takes me awhile to respond!! 🙂 Just too difficult to type on the phone!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ooooh! I never would have thought of the “reflections/mirrors” part of their same names! You are so deep 😳, boy, not me 😄☺️😉. That thought makes me wonder about stuff I hadn’t even thought of before!

      Liked by 2 people

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