Cover Image: Boy Underground

Boy Underground

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"And that was the moment my life really changed. I just didn't know it at the time. Looking back, I guess we never do." 

Catherine Ryan Hyde is one of today's most prolific writers, most excellent writers, and frankly, I don't know how she keeps writing excellence, but she does, and each story is as good as the last. 

This is a bittersweet story of love, loss and maturity, while keeping alive the feelings that remain throughout life.

Steven knows he's different, but considering it's 1941 and he's only 14 years of age and living in a conservative family, he sees nothing good coming his way anytime soon. Except perhaps for Nick. Nick is his friend and Nick is a sensitive, thoughtful young man. Nick becomes the object of Steven's affections, during a pivotal camping trip in the mountains.

In fact, each of the guys in this book, including Ollie and Itsuki "Suki" are thoughtful, caring young men. They have conversations that are largely tacit. They seem cut from the same cloth, but each seems to understand the others without a lot of long conversations. 

Ollie goes off to war, Itsuki is sent with his family to Manzanar, a relocation camp in the California desert. Nick gets implicated in a crime not of his doing and has to hide out. Steven does the best he can for his friends. Eventually, Steven is alone, in love, and has to make adult decisions. Some work out, but some don't. 

Years pass and Steven becomes an adult. His life takes turns he never thought it would. Some of his beloved friends stay in his life, some go their own ways. 

What I liked so much about this book was the fact that these four young men sincerely cared about each other. They were giving, not taking, individuals. They realized that sometimes they had to roll with the punches life delivered, and life delivered a lot of blows to these young men. The connection among them was palpable and sustaining. 

To include all the things I loved about this story would make for a really long review. Fans of Hyde's books know how this is. Those of you who haven't read her books will learn how it is, when they read this book.
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I am in awe at this Author’s talent. She draws you into the story and you stay there long after the book has ended. (Or at least I do.) Steven is an unhappy teenager who becomes friends with three boys who his mother feels are “not worthy”. This book carries you through the war in 1941 and beyond. It is heartwarming and like all of this Author’s books a true delight to read. It will stay in your head if not your heart long after the book has ended, Thanks to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and the Author for the privilege of reading and reviewing this book.
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What an emotionally intense read, I feel absolutely bereft now it's over. The story follows Steven's friendships and family while war is breaking out in 1941. Although there is a lot going on, the central theme is Steven's relationship with Nick. It's a beautiful story, told effortlessly, which draws you in completely so that you feel every little thing Steven thinks and feels.. My favourite book of 2021.
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Bittersweet coming of age story (aren't they all bittersweet?) 
"Practice accepting that things are incomplete. Practice accepting that the answer at the moment is that you don't know."

Beginning just before the  US enters WW2, Boy Underground is about a thoughtful justice minded young teenage boy who recognizes he is gay. His family owns a farm and he makes friends with Ollie, Suki, and Nick who come from farm working families. Together they form bonds of friendship mingled with tragedy of one another's lives. 

Well written story. Would give it 4-4.5 stars . . . I struggled to believe a young boy would have the awareness (of himself and of the world) he does without  people, TV or internet to give him the insight and courage. But his connections and sense of humility and integrity are meaningful and heartwarming. 

grateful for the ARC through Netgalley.
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I was so very honored to be able to get an advance copy of Boy Underground, by my top author. I love everything, Catherine Ryan Hyde writes. This book was a deep, heartful one. 
1941. Steven Katz is the son of prosperous landowners in rural California. Although his parents don’t approve, he’s found true friends in Nick, Suki, and Ollie, sons of field workers. The group is inseparable. But Steven is in turmoil. He’s beginning to acknowledge that his feelings for Nick amount to more than friendship.

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor draws the US into World War II, Suki and his family are forced to leave their home for the internment camp at Manzanar. Ollie enlists in the army and ships out. And Nick must flee. Betrayed by his own father and accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he turns to Steven for help. Hiding Nick in a root cellar on his family’s farm, Steven acts as Nick’s protector and lifeline to the outside world.

As the war escalates, bonds deepen, and the fear of being different falls away. But after Nick unexpectedly disappears one day, Steven’s life focus is to find him. On the way, Steven finds a place he belongs and a lesson about love that will last him his lifetime.


Each of the young boys/men had their own parts and losses. Just a very beautiful, heartful book. This book will stay with me long after it becomes published. Life choices and sometimes no choices at all. Thank you for the honor of reading magic and somewhat sadness of  Boy Underground.
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Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan Hyde portrays the casualties of World War II as seen through the eyes of young teenagers of various backgrounds.  Even though that time period is long gone, the devastation of war never ceases to remind us of our past.  Mrs. Hyde adds another dimension to this book that is usually not incorporated when we read about the complexity of World War II but is so prevalent in today's society.  Catherine Ryan Hyde is an author that should be read by everyone--one of my favorites.
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This is a beautiful, heartfelt tale told by a young teen named Steven Katz.
This story takes place during World War II and then ends in the present day to provide an emotional, perfect end.
 World War II was a time of turmoil, unrest, distrust and panic.
Steven Katz has three new friends. Nick, Suki and Ollie. A different, yet caring group of buddies. 
 Everyone needs friends.
Mrs. Katz does not like the group of boys that Steven is "hanging" with. 
It makes a bad name for the family.    Why? 
 Steven feels especially close to Nick and when Nick desperately needs help and begs him to promise not to tell anyone where he is, Steven is more than happy to provide safety and refuge in the root cellar on the family farm. 
Steven starts to realize that he will do anything to help him and truly loves him. 
Life could go on as such, until the isolation, loneliness and darkness begin to work on Nick.
 He leaves suddenly and Steven has no idea where he went.
Hence begins a journey of searching and hoping that "All things do happen for a reason".
Wow! I loved this novel! 
Take your time and absorb it all! Excellent!
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I am grateful to have received an ARC of Boy Underground through NetGalley.

This is another outstanding story by Catherine Ryan Hyde, as good a storyteller as they get. This one is set at the beginning of World War II and is about four teenage boys. The narrator (Steven) is from a well-to-do family that owns a farm. The other three boys, Suki, Nick and Ollie, are from poor families and considered by Steven's parents to be beneath Steven. Steven, from a young age, has a mind of his own and is above discriminating against others, whether it be social class or nationality.

The three friends all face challenges. Ollie, the oldest of the boys, enlists to join the war even before he turns 18 years old. Nick is framed by his father for a crime his father actually committed. He becomes the boy underground as he evades being arrested for a crime he did not commit. Suki is of Japanese descent and his family faced the unique challenges faced by Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The characters are wonderful, all very strong and courageous people in their own ways. Steven, the narrator, takes the reader through World War II and then fast forwards to the present day when, at age 94, he reflects back on all the years since those fateful times in the 1940s.

An outstanding story, so very realistic. Very inspiring, as so many of CRH's books are.
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As soon as I saw this book was available I grabbed it! I was so excited because I have loved Catherine Ryan Hyde books forever, so I started reading right way.I loved this book so much I'm having trouble reviewing it-not sure what I can say that does it justice. I wish I could give it more than five stars. The characters, the writing and the story are all stupendous. Steven, Nick, Suki, and Ollie stole my heart. They each had their own story and were fully   drawn. The story was so much more than it sounded like it would be. The writing, of course, was lyrical. I admit the ending made me cry-not just tear-filled eyes cry, but tears rolling down my face cry.  I'm not sure I have ever been so affected by a book before and I'm not sure I ever thought I could be. As much as I have loved her other books, Catherine Ryan Hyde has written a masterpiece.
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Steven Katz in a teenage living on the farm with his parents and his brother in rural California.  It is 1941 and Simon is aware that he is no longer happy with the friends that populated his childhood and he is questioning the reasoning for this and becoming aware of his differences from the crowd.  He is lonely.  He is also aware that his family is not a happy, loving one – his mother is cold and hard.  

The Katz farm is prosperous and Steven befriends some boys  - sons of field workers and therefore not socially acceptable to his parents.  Perhaps it is more truthful to say that Nick, Suki and Ollie befriend him and they become lifelong friends.  The boys suggest to Steven that they hike into the mountains and camp overnight and although he has never been on such a hike, he agrees.  The expedition is somewhat dangerous, it is cold, it is dangerous and Steven is not used to this exercise.  Steven becomes aware that his feelings towards the boys are strong but his feelings towards Nick are different and powerful.

On their return home they discover that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbour and their world is not the same.  Suki and his family, as Japanese are in danger from the townspeople.  
Nick’s father has attacked a man in a drunken fight and the man is in a coma.  Nick’s father blames it on him and the police want to arrest him.  Steven hides Nick in a remote root cellar on their farm.  During Nick’s incarceration he is totally dependent on Steven and their love deepens.

A beautiful, poignant story, carefully constructed, logically revealed, but incredibly subtle.  The dialogue is lyrical perhaps because of its hesitancy -  the unspoken words, the thoughts behind the speech.  My heart ached for Steven but he met amazing people that recognised his uniqueness and his loneliness and they imparted their wisdom to him.  The void of his parental home in which no joy was experienced, by anyone; the soul-saddening knowledge that his life is a vacuum in the one place that he should be safe and loved.  ‘You are ours – until you are 18’ he is told by his father.  It made me weep as it resonated in my heart.

A truly beautiful, beautiful story, with a beautiful ending.

Thank you to the author, publishers and NetGalley for providing an ARC via my Kindle in return for an honest review.
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