Cover Image: Boy Underground

Boy Underground

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Member Reviews

Catherine Ryan Hyde has done it again! I love her books,  this one included!
Now in his 90's, Steven tells of his journey living as young teenager through the war with his friends Ollie, Nick, and Suki. Steven always felt like he never fit in until he met these 3 friends.
We follow these 4 through their intense time of living as a child during the war, and then brought to the current present day through Steven's story.
What a great read! I couldn't put it down!
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I was not sure what to expect from this novel and it’s title. This story takes place in small-town America  in 1941. Things were about to get very scary and dangerous for many people with the bombing.  As an old Steven narrates this story,  I was pretty much drawn right into his young life with all of the decisions and emotions it entailed. As he notices another young man, named  Suki,  at baseball tryouts, he notices things in himself that he wanted to pursue or grow.   Suki was obviously trying to not make the team and Steven was only being pushed by his father to try out. He follows Suki and meets a small group of the boys that he attaches himself to. As the boys go off on a camping trip in early December, their worlds change forever.  I loved the way the author peeled the skin on these young men and the dangerous and closed-mined times that they lived in.  I got one third of the way through in my first reading! It is very hard to read about the racial hate of any people especially the young people caught in between their families, the law, and their friends. The bravery of some people always amazes me in the dark history of our world. May we all seek to be the braces ones. A wonderful read!
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Yet another gripping, heartbreaking, yet heartwarming story from Catherine Ryan Hyde. Boy Underground is a coming-of-age story of Steven Katz, just a boy at the start of World War II, along with some new friends whose lives quickly intertwine and shape each other into the men they will become. Hyde's ability to draw the reader into the story and care about the characters continues to amaze me, and each story leaves me thinking, "This is the best one yet!" So, until next time... This truly is the best one yet. Five stars indeed!
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A very emotional coming of age book, love and loss in war times. I do enjoy reading Catherine Ryan Hyde books. but this was such a special read, it follows a young boy trying to find himself and has been written in such a way I couldn't put this book down.
Simply loved it.
Thank you NetGalley.
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I can never say enough good things about Catherine Ryan Hyde’s ability to weave together the perfect story. This is a story about war, loss, friendship, acceptance, hate, and resilience. She touches on many of the injustices in society in such a manner that serves to bring everyone together and leaves you touched by each character and their story.
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Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan Hyde a five-star story. This was once again a fantastic story from this author, this is such an inspirational story, the characters and details will hook you, the strength of friendship that runs through this story, is what made it so powerful. The humility and strength in this story will absorb you.
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I really enjoyed this book! I usually listen to books, so it is sometimes hard to keep my attention long enough to actually read one. This book gives a perspective(s) on WWII that I think is often overlooked or bypassed in our US History classes; that of the Japanese US citizens and what happened to them here in the US. I could also feel the agony and pain of what is was like to be a gay teenager long before it became anything close to acceptable. I love this author and this book does not disappoint.
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If you are a Catherine Ryan Hyde fan, you know you are in for a good read when you pick up her newest novel.  And you will not be disappointed.  The story of a 14 year old lonely boy set in California during 1942-45.  He makes three friends and they are in separable, until WWII hits.  It’s the coming of age of the main character....Steven Katz and how he deals with his own feelings about who he is and what is right and wrong in the world.  Well written, quick paced.
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Steven Katz has a hard time fitting in at school until he meets Suki (Itsuki). Ollie and Nick at baseball tryouts. The boys decide to go camping together in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and set off on 6th December 1941. It’s a life changing decision for all three of them. Steven narrates looking back on these events in 2019 aged 94. 

This is a beautifully written and poignant novel which handles sensitive topics with great care and respect. It’s an emotional story of tragedy, sexual orientation, homophobia, racism and injustice in more ways than one, as each of them faces one or several of these issues. The landowning Katz family dynamics are something else, even before war broke out Steven’s cold mother dislikes all these friends, initially because of different social status but she gets worse unfortunately. You soon realise there is something very basic missing in the home which fills you will sadness for Steven. You feel like an uncomfortable voyeur at some of the family diner table discussions which are just as unpalatable as the food. Some of these are pivotal at severing any connection Steven has with his family and at times there’s a disconnection in the writing which I’m assuming is deliberate on Stevens/the authors part. Steven is a really good central character, he’s constant in his loyalty to his friends despite the obstacles, he grows braver and bolder towards those he believes are wrong, challenging their views. Mr Cho becomes Stevens mentor and I really warm to him as he’s so wise and his counselling helps Steven immeasurably. The Japanese internment camp at Manzanar is also pivotal in bringing about further change in Steven, it has a deep affect on him as on those of us reading in in 2021. 

Overall, this is a very thought provoking and emotional book which I’m glad to have read. 

With thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
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This YA exploration of the effects of WW2 on 3 teenage boys living in a small town in California was more affecting than I had anticipated. It offered some historical commentary to the US involvement. A pleasant read.
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This is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of America’s entry into World War II and the treatment of Japanese   Americans. .Steven has felt like an outsider even in his own family. He becomes friends with Ollie and Suki  and begins to realize he has feelings for another new friend Nick. When Nick is falsely accused of a crime Steven becomes Nicks protector in every way possible. Steven and Nick try to keep their friendship going but it’s not easy. Flash forward to Nick and Stevens reuniting in New York City  where Nicks true feelings for Steven are revealed.  Ms Hyde has perfected writing about teens and young adults finding themselves and becoming comfortable with who they are. Steven is probably one of the most courageous characters I’ve read in a long time. I really enjoyed this.
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This is the first book I am reading from Catherine Ryan Hyde and i am very much impressed. This is such an emotional read, the characters are well-developed and memorable and they stay with you even after finishing the book.
The book is about standing up for your beliefs, about hardships of life and to learn and know how being true and staying true to yourself, is rewarding.
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This is probably a 4.5 star for me. I love Hyde’s writing. I love that she always uses historical settings and gives us the point of view of a progressive thinker. I will definitely be getting myself a copy!
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A book about standing up for what you believe and making choices that may ostracize you. A book about long lasting friendships ,tragedies and growing up in a dysfunctional family and community. A book about knowing that life is hard but being true to yourself means you can survive and be that better person.
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Catherine Ryan Hyde is a favorite author of mine, as her standalones are typically heartfelt, focusing on everyday people trying to make their way through life.

Boy Underground is a touching story told through the first-person narration of Steven Katz. As the 14-year-old son of a large farm owner in rural California, Steven turns to a new group of friends in 1941 when his current friends disappoint him with their prejudices. Nick, Ollie, and Itsuki ("Suki") are not as well off, as their families are field workers, but the four boys quickly bond with each other. They embark on a thrilling mountain camping adventure together, only to find out upon their return the following day that Pearl Harbor has  been bombed by Japan, leading the United States to join the Allies in WWII. 

From then on, nothing is the same for any of the boys. Ollie, who is a bit older, enlists as a soldier and is sent overseas. Suki and his family are ordered to give up everything they have and to live at Manzanar, an internment camp for US inhabitants with Japanese heritage. And Nick, with whom Steven is developing a relationship that goes beyond friendship, is accused of beating and putting a man in a coma. Nick's father is the real culprit, but he opts for incriminating his son in order to save his own skin. Steven knows that Nick was with him and the others when the assault took place, but no one will listen, so Nick has to hide out to avoid being sent to reform school. Nick is the titular "Boy Underground," as Steven allows him to use his family's root cellar to avoid capture.;

What ensues are spoilers, so you will have to read the book to learn the details. What is important about the story is encapsulated in a philosophy on how to "practice living" espoused by Gordon Cho, an elderly Chinese townsperson who takes a liking to Steven:. " Enjoying the world just as it is. Understanding that many things are incomplete. Allowing it to be so." And: "Stop trying to change things that are out of your control to change." That philosophy is especially difficult to embrace for a boy who is coming of age and is forced to deal with such huge issues as a global war, homophobia, and xenophobia. Steven is feisty, inserting himself in confrontations that could harm him and trying to find his own voice, but even his parents are not supportive.

The book ends with a moving epilogue, which wraps things up in a mostly satisfying manner.

I enjoyed this unique perspective on one boy's struggle with extraordinary events that threaten to overwhelm him. The story is told in a straightforward manner, and I feel that most of it could qualify as a historical YA novel. I would have liked a little more character development and nuance to enrich an already interesting story.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.
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The story of four young teenage boys growing up in a small town in California in the  1940’s.
I really enjoyed this book, the wonderful storyline, the description of the era and the memorable characters.
I was totally hooked from the first page until the last page.
This is only the second book I have read by this author and I was delighted to learn that she has written many more books for me to read and enjoy.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I am so, so thankfull that I have received an ARC of Boy Underground through NetGalley.
The description made me curious about the story and I was not disappointed. 

I've never heard of Catherine Ryan Hyde before I read this book, so i didn't know what to expect.
I think she did an exellent job on this book. I cant wait to read more of her books.

.The story is about love, racism, standing up for yourself and acceptance for being who you are. Steven Katz ( the main character) has to deal with all those things in his life and it is so relatable. Even nowadays people struggle with this. That is why I like this story so much, because I can recognize some parts of this book in our own world.
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Catherine Ryan Hyde is one of my favorite authors.   This book was interesting as it was set during World War II but in America and so we see a different perspective than from those who were living in the midst of a county in war.  The story is about 4 high school boys who are friends and what happens to their friendship over the years.   Catherine has a way of writing characters that you immediately are drawn into and need to keep reading to find out what happens to them.   This book is no different.
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What a great book! Steven is a teenager in CA and his parents own a farm. He finds true friends with Suki, Nick and Ollie. Nick learns a lot about himself and the world in a few short years.
He helps his friends the best he knows how to during the war. 
This book dealt with a lot of obstacles from the past and present: WW2, racism and homophobia and American Japanese families.
This is the 3rd book of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s that I have read. I will be reading more of her books! Love the stories and characters she writes about.
Thank you to Lake Union Publishing & NetGalley for allowing me an advance copy.
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The description of the book was what drew me to wanting to read this book and I am so happy that I was selected to read it The description of the book which drew me to wanting to read it was that it was about a teenage boy during WWII and I have always loved reading about this period of time so I was sure that I would enjoy this book too.
We meet four friends; Steven, Nick, Suki and Ollie and the story follows Steven as he gets to know his new friends a lot better and starts to understand that they come from a completely different world than him. Steven is also realizing that he has more in common with his friends than with his family and we see how the group of friends start to break up as a results of the war arriving in America as well.
There are also a lot more dynamics in this book which make you feel for the boys and their unfortunate circumstances and the book ends with seeing how everyone ends up after the war and when they have gotten old (I guess that’s a tiny spoiler).
I really enjoyed reading this book and loved every little part of and I already am thinking about getting a physical copy for my shelves.
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