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