Have You Seen Luis Velez? is my first book from Catherine Ryan Hyde. I don’t remember how I first came across this book and I’m very happy I did.
We meet Raymond, a sixteen-year-old high school student. He feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. Not in his father’s home with his new wife. Not in his mother’s new family. Not even in school. When his best friend moved away, his only friends were a stray cat and a ninety-two year old blind woman whom he met when she inquired if he happened to see Luis Velez.
Have You Seen Luis Velez? is a wonderful story of life, friendship, loss, acceptance and kindness. I very much loved the idea of the connection created between two unlikely people who found common ground, the friendship formed beyond their differences. It was nice to see the mutual respect and love for each other. It’s endearing to read how they learn from each other, help each other find peace of mind, peace for their past, accept life and face the challenges and possibilities ahead.
Raymond’s search for Luis Velez gave him an opportunity to meet people of all sorts and helped him be aware of a wider world, the real world. Raymond is a character you can’t help but love. He’s endearing and I admire his compassion. He also starved for affection. That’s why I felt so happy when he became friends with Millie, the ninety-two year old woman, because he finally had someone to confide to.
The simplicity of this book makes it so powerful. It deals with the issues our society is facing these days — racism, prejudice, sexuality, gun violence and the importance of a society that support each other.
If you want to read something to uplift your spirit and help you reflect on life or the role you play in it, this is a great read. It’s actually a story for everyone.
“People laugh at things they don’t understand. It makes them feel safe. But it’s a false feeling. They are no safer. They just feel as if they are. The world is full of people too foolish to judge the difference.”
“Life gives us nothing outright. It only lends. Nothing is ours to keep.”
“Living long is a gift denied to many, and so it comes with a responsibility to make the most of it. At very least to appreciate it. People gripe about growing older—their aches and pains, how much harder everything is—as if they had forgotten that the alternative is dying young.”
“The world is a tough place, my friend. I’m not ready to change my mind about that. And yet we’re called upon to be grateful that we’re in it. That seems to be our challenge.”
“Never be afraid to look, Raymond. It’s always better to look. Whatever you’re afraid of, turn toward it, not away. Once you’re willing to do that, it loses all its power over you. Trust me. I know this. I don’t always do it. But I really, truly know.”