Divorce is usually just as difficult on the child or children of a union as it is on the adults. In Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde, we meet Ethan Underwood, a 17-year-old who has been unable to come to terms with his parents divorce. He is small for his age and afraid of almost everything. After his parents divorce he found himself in a situation of danger that left him fearful and very quiet, feeling unable to trust most situations.
He is spending time with his father in his remote cabin in the Wilderness of Blythe River, and while unable to forgive his father for the divorce, he has tried to release his fear and anger but to no avail. When his father disappears and does not return to the cabin, Ethan notifies the rangers, who begin a search.
After some research though they are convinced that his father has left on purpose, to move on to other things, after all, that was why his parents were divorced in the first place. There was always something better, just out of reach.
Once more feeling betrayed, Ethan packs up to return home. Yet something keeps nagging at him. What if he is his fathers last chance at life? What if his father is out in the wilderness hoping and waiting for rescue and no one comes? Ethan knows that he should go home, but now he is unable to move forward.
With the help of some locals, an elderly widow, a pack guide, and a limited outdoors-man, he heads into the woods. Punishing cold and weather meet them on their journey but with the help of his new friends, he finds he learns to trust his instincts. With the punishing weather, Ethan wonders if he has set himself and his new friends up for failure and untimely death.
The decision is his, and when he finely realizes that it is his search, he turns his thoughts to what matters most. And as he continues the final phase of his search, he realizes that his discovery is about more then just finding his father, but in coming to terms with his anger and forgiving his father if he can only find him.
Hyde has given us the pain encountered in the break up of families, and the coming of age of a young man who has to find a way out of his own feeling of betrayal. The characters are an eclectic mix, and each has a strength of character that is lacking in Ethan. As they move further into danger, Ethan grows, and evolves, finding a pride he never knew existed. The dangerous and heartwarming story holds you captivated as the search winds down to the conclusion.
If you enjoy tales of courage and strength, as well as romance and friendships, you will find this is where you need to be. Hyde takes you on a steamroller ride of emotion as she fleshes out a story of redemption.
This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group. It hold a great deal of debatable material.