Cover Image: Boy Underground

Boy Underground

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Member Reviews

I am a big fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde, and have enjoyed most of her books immensely. When I saw the synopsis of this book, I was sure I wouldn't enjoy it as it had a historical setting of the 1940's during the Pearl Harbor attack. However, it isn't a war story, but rather a story of a teenage boy coming to grips with who he truly is, and who his parents are not.
As usual, Catherine Ryan Hyde presents in-depth characters, struggling to know who they are, and what their role is, in their families, and in life.
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I am a Catherine Ryan Hyde fan and I encourage you to read this book and go back and read her other novels if you haven't already. Ms. Hyde takes on difficult topics and develops her stories in such a way that you never finish a book without having learned something new!
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Catherine Ryan Hyde is one of my favorite authors, and I was very excited to read Boy Underground, her newest book. It did not disappoint! I loved this book so much! It was unlike any of her other books in that it was historical fiction, written like a memoir. It was a coming of age story, full of so much tenderness, love, pain, and wisdom. Once I started reading it, I simply could not put it down. I absolutely adored this novel! Thank you to  Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy. This, in my opinion, is Catherine Ryan Hyde’s best book yet.
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This was a really lovely story. It's about friendship, race, intolerance, love and so much more. I really loved the friendship between the four young men. It was touching the way that they grew to support one another. They all had things they were hiding... or not open about but they welcomed each other.

Steven, the main character, was quite remarkable. I liked the way he thought and really appreciated the way that he stood up for his friends despite overwhelming push back from his family. He's strong and determined and loyal.

The author has written with care and attention about the Japanese internment during the war. It is written from the perspective of a young white man, but he's always clear about the things he doesn't understand or feels he should have thought of. It was like actually being in the mind of a young person who was struggling with living in two worlds.

I would gladly recommend this book to anyone. Well-written, well thought out, authentic and important.
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In 1941, fourteen year old Steven Katz has made friends with 3 sons of men who work on his father's farm.  This is not socially acceptable to his family, especially because one of his friends, Suki, is Japanese.  As the war goes on, Manzanar, a Japanese relocation camp is built nearby, Steven's friend Ollie joins the army and Nick, who Steven has feelings for, is in trouble with the law.  Steven struggles with his feelings, and his family, and tries to protect his friends.
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This is my first book by this author and I am so looking forward to catching up with the many of hers that I haven't read yet.  Boy Underground is a wonderful story, narrated by Steven who was a young teenager when the US entered WW2 following the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941; he is narrating from years hence and the story is so well told. Many difficult subjects are covered and I was amazed at the author's scope and intelligent writing. With thanks to NetGalley and the publishers and author for the opportunity to read and review an e-ARC of this title.
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Life is constantly in motion. Forever changing. We bend and sway in response........never realizing the transformation taking place within us.

Steven Katz never knew that trying out for the baseball team in high school would actually hit a lifetime homerun for him. It's here in the heat of Owens Valley, California in 1941 that Steven will meet Suki Yamamoto, Ollie, and Nick sitting on a picnic bench near the field. All are tall, lanky fourteen year olds except for Ollie who is seventeen. An immediate friendship takes place.

But a solid bond will form as the boys plan to hike together in the Sierras. The trails are rough and the steep terrain almost unexpected, but they make it to the crystal blue lake. When they make it back down to the trail head, the world will have changed. It's the 7th of December and America has been attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Nothing will ever be the same for these boys.

And to add to the chaos is the reality that FDR signed the War Relocation Authority in which Japanese living in America were sent to camps. Suki and his family will be relocated to Manzanar. Ollie will volunteer for service and Nick will be accused of a crime that he did not commit. And Steven will become an outcast in his own family because of his beliefs and his personal choices.

It is mindboggling to even imagine the long corridors that exist in the mind of Catherine Ryan Hyde. She creates stories that are so brilliant and so painfully human time and time again. Her characters range from all ages and from all backgrounds depicting joyous triumphs to gut-wrenching realities. Boy Underground is especially poignant. Through the character of Steven, she allows us to experience the global nature of the world in meltdown mode through war. And then through the voice of this young boy, we hold snippets of the aftermath of the breakdown of his soul. Beautifully rendered. A must read.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Lake Union Publishers and to the talented Catherine Ryan Hyde for the opportunity.
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Very good read. Wasn't sure if I'd enjoy but I love her other works so I said why not and I'm so glad I did .excellent reading
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It is 1941 and fourteen year old Steven Katz, the son of a wealthy, conservative farmer, is desperate to make his father proud of him. He turns up at the baseball selections for team play. He sees one of the Japanese boys ready for his try-out who fails miserably. They get talking and it is at this point that Steven meets Itsuki Yamamoto, soon to become his saviour. Suki introduces Steven to his friends Ollie, aged seventeen and Nick, the same age as both Steven and Suki. Before meeting these three boys Steven had become aware that somehow he didn’t fit in with his old friends who he had made when he was much younger. But with Suki, Ollie and Nick he feels safe, cared for and excited about the opportunities he will have with his new pals. He knows better than to mention his new friends to his family. His new friend’s families are not like his and his parents would not be happy for him to associate with these sons of labourers. It is a matter of class and his family knew they might be judged and even ostracised if Steven were seen with friends below his social status.
The group of four teenagers quickly become really close. Soon Steven realises he has feelings for Nick. He is confused but Nick seems to like him and that is just fine for him. They meet every day at school and share their news. They even go camping, hiking up the Sierra Nevada Mountains and swimming in a lake although it is the 6th of December and is snowing. 
Then the tragic news breaks. Pearl Harbour has been bombed and the US enter World War 11 in a fight against the Japanese. Ollie has enlisted into the army and is on his way to the war by sea. A secluded area has been turned into an internment camp called Manzanar. All Japanese families are rounded up, including Suki who was born and bred in America. Nick has been framed by his own father with a false claim that he has committed a serious assault that may turn into a murder charge. His father produces a so-called witness and the hunt is on for Nick to face charges. Steven shields Nick in an isolated and deserted root cellar on his farm. He tends to his needs in the darkness of the night, visiting him daily with food, drink and other necessities, only saying goodbye to him after Nick’s father is goaled for the crime he is proved to have committed. Nick flees to his mother but continues to write to Steven.
The story continues in 2019 and Steven narrates the story of his boyhood and adolescence as a ninety four year old man looking back on his life. He also tells the story of what happened after the war ended. He reunited with his friends and was loyal to them. His friendships had proved to be lifelong and were celebrated by annual get togethers.
This poignant story is perhaps the best of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s thirty two novels, numerous short stories, and even non-fiction books. Every novel is a new opportunity for you to discover her magical and stunningly beautiful writing for both adult and young adult readers. She knows her craft inside-out and is a prolific author; one that will never disappoint you. All of her novels are unique, new and fresh. I am in awe of her huge talent and always wait eagerly for a new title to be available. This story examines modern and age old issues such as racism, warfare, homophobia, injustice, friendship, loyalty and social stigma. It is both heart-warming and heart breaking. I always learn something from Catherine’s novels. This time it was about the persecution of the Japanese which Steven compared with Hitler and his persecution of Jews, Poles, Gypsies and other non-Aryans. 
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from publisher Lake Union through my membership of NetGalley. It was sent to my Kindle in return for an honest and unbiased review and I would like to thank them for my copy of the novel. It’s an all-round 5* review from me and the parts I loved best of all were how Steven framed his life and how the author actually rounded off her novel. Be alert for surprises, you may shed a few tears but you’ll certainly enjoy your whole reading experience.
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I am never disappointed with a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Boy Underground was no exception. It was wonderfully written, engaging, heartfelt and I felt so invested in the characters. She was able to touch on so many difficult subjects and tied them together well. The lesson that family is not who you are born to, but really those you choose or who choose you to love is clear as well as how important it is to protect those we love and to stand up for them. I highly recommend reading Boy Underground.
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Oh this book!  Catherine Ryan Hyde never disappoints. This one is about 15 year old Steven hiding his best friend, Nick who happens to be the young man he loves (boy) in an old root cellar (underground) on his father's farm. His other friend, Olly is off in the Pacific to fight in WWII and the fourth of the friends, Suki is at an internment camp for the Japanese. 

As usual Catherine Ryan Hyde writes a thought provoking story that pulls at the heartstrings. I loved these boys and felt heartsick when they were sad and I was delighted when they were happy. This book is so beautifully written and is so very emotional on many fronts. It also deals with many issues such as coming out, racism and prejudice because of social class to name a few. The romance part of this book really had me hoping that Nick and steven would end up together. You'll have to read this to find out if they do. This book is so emotional it really moved me and will stay with me for a very long time.
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BOY UNDERGROUND by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a heart-wrenching and emotional story of friendship, love and conviction that hooked me from the first page and never let go. Catherine Ryan Hyde always writes engrossing, thought-provoking and moving stories and this one is no exception.  Set in rural California in the 1940s, four teenage boys form an unlikely bond that will change their lives forever. Fourteen-year-old Steven Katz is the son of successful landowners. Against his parents’ wishes, Steven befriends three boys, Nick, Ollie and Suki, who are sons of local field laborers. Despite the dramatic differences in their wealth and class, the boys become inseparable.  But in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, nothing will ever be the same for any of them. Steven struggles with his complex feelings for Nick and the growing tensions within his family. The story touches on many important themes such as racism, class discrepancies and sexual orientation with honesty and compassion. The epilogue was perfect and tied everything together. I loved this uplifting and poignant novel and I can’t wait for whatever comes next from Catherine Ryan Hyde. Thank you to the author, Publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy.
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I loved this story! It will stay with me for a long time. A story of friendship, growing up, and learning about the world.
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Once again, Catherine Ryan Hyde has written a wonderful novel that deals with challenging ideas in an accessible, easy-to-understand way. In Boy Underground, she writes a compelling narrative that touches on racism, classism, and ignorance and prejudice surrounding the LBGTQ community.

The book begins in 1941, when 14-year-old Steven Katz befriends Ollie, Suki, and Nick. Steven seems to have it easier than his new friends because his father is a landowner while their fathers are laborers on his or surrounding farms. His parents would not approve of his buddies, but they pay so little attention to him, they don’t even know who his friends are until the war manages to separate them for various reasons. 
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Highly recommend. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel, which RELEASES DECEMBER 7, 2021.
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A beautifully written coming of age story set during World War II in rural California.  World War II is not the central focus, but is more of a backdrop for the story which is more about friendship, family, and prejudice.  Steven Katz, son of a prosperous landowner,  has made friends with three boys who all share a very different background than Steven: Ollie, Nick, and Suki (Itsuki).  Steven is put in some very difficult situations that no one his age should ever have to deal with.  And while the focus is on Steven, all three of the other boys have huge problems facing them as well.  

This was both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story.  The book kept me riveted.  I truly enjoy this author's books and I feel this is one of the very best, and she has written many.  

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing through Netgalley for an advance copy.  This book will be published on December 7, 2021.
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Until this book I hadn't had the pleasure yet to read a book by this author. Her writing spoke to me in several ways - her choice of words, the way she tells this story from Steven's pov, the feelings and insecurities involved when growing up. In fact, the emotions over all were pretty palpable. Heartbreaking at times, but never too much. Most of them were presented matter of factly, but that didn't mean I couldn't feel them throughout the book. 

Steven is only 13 when the story begins. He lives in California in the period just before the war. He befriends a couple of boys - Ollie, who is older, Nick, who comes from a one-parent household, and Suki, who is of Japanese descent. Then the attack on Pearl Harbor happens and the lives as they knew them, change forever. 
The author touches several sensitive subjects. One being the relocation of the Japanese people by the American government after the country was dragged into the war by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suki and his family are forced to relocate to one of those camps - not allowed to take anything than the things they could carry. It's something I hadn't known about, but found very interesting.
When Suki leaves, and Ollie goes into the army, Nick is the only one of his friends that's left. But he has problems of his own, and Steven wants nothing more than to help him the best he can. 
He's long found out he's attracted to boys, and Nick is the first boy he falls in love with. 
Coming from a high class family himself - his father owns one of the largest farms around - Steven is told more than once that anything he does, will reflect his family and the way people see them. But he refuses to hide his friendship with Suki, and when one day at the dinner table his father mentions how he doesn't mind when Hitler would kill all the 'faggots' as well, it's one of those moments that Steven realizes his family won't ever accept the truth about him. 
Their family dynamics were odd to say the least. His parents hardly seemed to care for him or his whereabouts as long as they didn't reflect upon them. Their dinner conversations were often painful, as well as a lot of things his mother - or his father - said to him. Careless and an obvious lack of proper love and interest. As if he just happened to live in the same house, share the same space, instead of being their child. Most of the time they didn't even know what he was up to, even if he was only a 13/14 year old boy. But Steven has a bright look on things - he's curious, he wants to learn and know. Observes people and their actions. He searches for answers to the questions about life. 
I loved Steven as the protagonist in this story. There's no way you could not feel for him and admire him for the things he does. For his - maybe naive - bravery. 

If you are interested in history, specially the years involving the war, and like a well written, poignant coming of age story, I believe this could be your book. I really enjoyed reading it. It's well paced and the writing is captivating. 

Recommended read!
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Catherine Ryan Hyde is one of my top 3 favorite authors. and she continues to AMAZE me with her creativity and excellent character development. So much so...you dont forget her books or the characters in them! Steven is a 14 back in 1941 and is at that shaky confused age while falling into situations with too much responsibilities all while the disaster at Pearl Harbor is crumbling and the subsequent entry of America into WWII. I could not put this book down..am I surprised...NO~ I adore Catherine's writing! Thank you!
I highly recommend this book!
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Another solid read by Hyde. She goes to places few go to and is always on point. Well written and absorbing. I enjoyed this
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What a fantastic story. I hate to admit that I knew nothing about the Japanese interment camps. I am absolutely horrified that our country did this to American citizens. I am upset that my school didn’t teach this, or that if they did it was glossed over so quickly that I lost it. This story of Steven and his life was amazingly beautiful. Catherine Ryan Hyde always steals a piece of my heart with her books. I will recommend this to everyone I know. Historical fiction at its finest. Thank you to Netgalley for this fantastic early read.
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Yet another great story by the talented Catherine Ryan Hyde.
Her stories are always unique, and this book is no exception.

I admired Steven for his ability to love the friends in his inner circle, and go to great lengths to protect them. He also saw them for who they were, flawed individuals. He didn't see race, orientation, nothing. He saw them as people.

I loved this book.
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