Cover Image: Boy Underground

Boy Underground

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Member Reviews

This a beautifully crafted plot of the coming of age story of Steven Katz.  When the story begins, he is 14 and the global world around him is having massive changes and he feels that his personal day-to-day world needs to change.  He does not see himself as strong, but he is extremely strong.  In the face of his fears, he pushes through and does what he knows is the right thing.  He chooses a path at that young age that will set him on his life’s journey, one of high principals and being true to himself.

Catherine Ryan Hyde always seems to know how to create a story that will transcend the pages and apply to real life.  It does not matter that this book is taking place mainly in 1941 through 1945, the world is still dealing with the same issues shown in these pages.  

I believe with each book I read that Ms. Hyde has written I find that I love her characters more and more.  After finished this book, I believe that Steven Katz is my favorite.  Of course, that is until I read her next book!

I want to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for giving me the pleasure of reading the advance reader copy, with no obligation to write a review. My review is written freely as a hobby, and is totally my own opinion, not influenced by receiving the ARC.
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4.5 stars

I am a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde. I generally read her books as soon as they become available, often without reading the blurb. The fact that her name is on a novel is enough reason for me to read it. That said, if I had read the blurb of this particular book, I would have skipped it. 

I don't seek out books that have to do with homosexuality. While I respect the rights of others to live their lives, the theme is just not something I'm interested in reading about. Spoiler alert (because I still haven't read the blurb): this book addresses issues faced by gay men. I was tempted to stop reading the book as early as the first chapter, but I decided to press on because... well... Catherine Ryan Hyde. I'm glad I did. 

The book is, as many of the CRH books I've read have been, focused on the issues of LIFE. It delivers important life lessons that can be of benefit to ANY reader, regardless of their background. This one delivered a few lines that were so impactful that I intend to print them out or copy them in my journal. For those lines alone, I would say this book is worth reading. 

"Boy Underground" also addresses some of America's history with which I (a non-American who isn't interested in US history) was mostly unfamiliar. It comes across as being well-researched and turned out to be rather thought-provoking. It led me to examine and gauge some of my own prejudices, which is always a good thing.

The plot is good. I feel like it could have gone on for a few more chapters (in my opinion, the gap from the 1940s to 2019 is a rather large one), but I was pleased with how neatly everything ended. 

I will continue to read Catherine Ryan Hyde's books, but I will be reading the blurbs first.
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An old man reflects back on the story of his youth. World War 2 has begun and the ramifications are not just in Europe.  Suki is Japanese, Ollie enlists at age 17, Nick’s father tries to escape arrest for theft by blaming his son, and Steven’s father is a landowner—4 different wartime experiences.  Suki’s family is sent to a Japanese internment camp, Ollie is killed by a sub torpedo before even landing to fight in the war, and Nick hides in an underground cellar on Steven’s property.  Steven gives him food, finds penicillin when Nick gets sick, and watches the stars and the sky hunter Orion with Nick.  The attraction is mutual and in such confined quarters, it is love. The lives of the survivors—Suki, Steven and Nick’s are changed by their experiences.  

This book is thoughtful, poignant, and full of inspiration to be one’s authentic self.  It portrays how easily hate invades our culture, a reflection of today as well as yesterday.
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Boy Underground is such a beautifully written book!  The story flows so well and the characters are well developed and very lovable.   I especially loved the era this novel is set in and the new perspective on World War II.  Love Catherine Ryan Hyde and this one might be my very favorite!
Thank you to netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review!
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I cannot wait for this book to be published! I want everyone to read it and enjoy it as much as I did. 
Steven Katz is by far my favourite character for a long time, I would love to be friends with him. He’s compassionate and shows so much empathy for others. 
Steven goes out of his way to help people without realising the trouble he could get into himself, he just does it. 
I don’t have the words to praise this book or it’s author highly enough.
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Thank you Netgalley and Catherine Ryan Hyde for a copy of this book.
WOw!! I loved this book from the beginning, loved the boys and the almost sepia feeling of the story. I feel head into it and didn't want to leave. Unfortunately I had to and rather abruptly. The story was so rich and I could have stayed with Steven for the next decade or two,  yet the last chapter seemed so rushed and tied with a bow. It didn't quite feel right to me.
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This book was particularly touching as I had an uncle who would have been a similar age and he grew up as a homosexual during the same period, albeit in the UK and who, eventually, went on to marry a lady, just like Nick. The other great point of interest for me was the camp's which Suki and his family were sent to. A part of the war I know nothing about. It's encouraged me to find out more. A wonderful, wonderful read.
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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 story flowed beautifully and I honestly felt like I was so absorbed in the storytelling that nothing else mattered at that time. This is a stunning narrative with well developed characters that tug at your heart strings. From the first page perfectly chosen words draw the reader near, weaving a web that will leave you with an intense desire to crawl in to the story and never return.
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Boy Underground is well written, the characters fully drawn, and the story touches on a number of important topics: friendship, family, sexuality, the politics of wartime, the search for authenticity and acceptance. Perhaps because it is being told from the point of view of an elderly man looking back on his youth, the story feels disconnected from real emotion in places, the subtleties of dialogue not quite enough to elicit the tension and true feeling the story needs. But, Catherine Ryan Hyde is a gifted storyteller, and Steven’s story is touching and heartbreaking, and in the end, it is the story of a life being lived on his own terms.
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"Boy Underground" by Catherine Ryan Hyde 

"I never wanted to be a person who thought that way, and I was destined to stop thinking that way very soon. But there you go. We all have to go from not knowing to knowing. Ifu you have shortcomings, I fully believe it's better to look them in the eye. Pretending otherwise gets you no where". 

"My views were a drop of water in a very big, uncaring ocean. They were destined to have no impact at all. There was only one of me, and that was not nearly enough".

The year is 1941, WWII is raging and fourteen year old Steven Katz is the son of wealthy landowners living in rural California. When he meets Suki at a baseball tryout his father requested he go to he's also introduced to friends Ollie and Nick. It doesn't take him long to realize they come from very different sides of the fence. A camping trip takes them into the mountains and while they're away a foreboding feeling follows the quartet, specifically Steven.  When they arrive back in town they realize that everything they knew about their town and way of life has completely changed. Nick's father has made a terrible mistake and there are rumors of the Japanese being relocated. In the heat of the moment Steven makes a joking suggestion at hiding both Nick and Suki on his family's farm if it ever came down to it, not realizing that just two days later he'd have to do just that. 

I absolutely adored this read. Steven Katz was the most wonderful protagonist. I loved his character so much. I felt his happiness and his sorrow throughout the entire novel. He grew dramatically and I loved his determination to do what was right. He never conformed to society and what they believed. The love he had for his friends was pure and I appreciated the story between them all. I haven't read many novels about the relocation of the Japanese during WWII so this taught me quite a few things I didn't know and made me want to pursue other books about the Japanese encampments. Solid 5 🌟 

"You may say I learn slowly, but you can't say I never learn".

"And whether the truth is happy or sad, I've found there is value in acknowledging it".

"I began to breathe in a way that suggested I hadn't been fully, deeply breathing for years". 

#BoyUnderground
#NetGalley
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This books was achingly beautiful in ways I never expected. I picked it up thinking it would be a good story about friendships and overcoming adversity, and I genuinely expected something similar to Holes (a great story). I did not expect to feel so may emotional gut-punches, and to have to close my kindle so often for deep breaths and rapid blinking. This story was absolutely heartbreaking in so many ways and I am so happy to have read it. My thoughts will undoubtedly revisit this story and its events over and again for quite a while.

I loved the relationships Steven formed with each of his 3 friends, and the detail that was put into examining them each. He understandably had very little love for his horrendous family, but the author allowed him to share all that love he had inside with his friends in small and different ways. It was a unique coming-of-age story in that it was set in WW2 era and that made the urgency and desperation of Steven’s need for a found family that much more important. I was so pleased when we as readers, and of course Steven, got the gift of Mr Cho.

I had been trying to emulate these boys for a couple of months, because they didn’t seem to get too upset about anything. Now I wondered if their secret was simply to keep quiet about everything that hurt. 

Hyde very subtly recounts the stories of these 4 friends through a series of emotional tragedies. This sounds oddly dramatic, but there’s just no denying that each of those boys faced absolute tragedies in their own ways, whether it be death and war, betrayal, lack of love and safety, racism and persecution, or a lack of belonging. All of these moments are explored and presented naturally as the plot moves forward, though each of them is an utter devastation to these good-hearted and unexpecting boys. I had to take a break after one of Steven’s horrible conversations at the family dinner table, and even thinking about it now is making my breath hitch.

Suki only shrugged. It wasn’t the shrug of someone who hadn’t decided if a thing was terrible or not. It was a shrug that conveyed that this brand of terrible was nothing new in his world. I was the only one who was surprised. 

I have read a lot of books that deal with racism and homophobia, and also a lot of books about WW2, but I’ve never read one that tackled all three in one, and never about Japanese families in America. I’m sure the word enjoyed is not appropriate here, but it was a fresh look at that era in exploring the war away from Europe and the nazis. 

I did take a lot away from this book and think it holds such value for readers young and old. It’s definitely one I would put in our school library, and that I would recommend to any of my reader friends.

*A big thank you for this ARC from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
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I am passionate about reading everything that has to do with World War II and this book does not disappoint. The author presents this book in such a way that you feel like they are telling you a story. Intense and very emotional where it presents Steven's relationship with Nick in challenging times.

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!
#BoyUnderground #NetGalley
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I received an ARC of Boy Underground in exchange for an honest review.  

I have come to love the novels written by Catherine because she takes ordinary people and makes them extraordinary.  The novel takes place in rural California in 1941 with our main character, Steven Katz, the son of prosperous landowners.  Steven is currently friendless because he doesn't seem to fit in with his old friends, but that is about to change.  One one fateful day while trying out for the baseball team, Steven is introduced to Suki, Ollie and Nick..  What Steven doesn't realize at the time is that these friends are going to significantly alter his  life.

Unfortunately, image is everything for Steven's family and these new friends don't meet his parents' standards. Suki is Japanese during WWII, and Nick and Ollie aren't in the same class as the Katz family.  However, somehow, Steven is able to convince his parents to let him go camping in the mountains with the boys - on a weekend that significantly alters their worlds. 

During that weekend, Pearl Harbor is bombed and Nick's dad is involved in a serious altercation that puts a man in the hospital and Nick's is somehow blamed for the incident.  From that one weekend, Suki and his family eventually end up in an interment camp, Ollie decides to join the army and Nick goes into hiding in Steven's root cellar to avoid prosecution.

Because of these events, Steven's time with Ollie and Suki is very short lived but that doesn't stop him from developing strong bonds with them.  Steven, also knowing that he was always different from other boys, beings to gain a better understand of himself, true love and friendship through the time he spends with Nick in his root cellar.  

The novel continues to take us on some significant twists and turns as the story progresses and Steven develops a deeper understanding of who he is - knowing that who he is does not align with his parent's expectations. .  The things that remain constant with Steven are his love for his friends and his willingness to stand up for what is right even when it is unpopular.  Steven also comes to the realization that you sometimes need to let go of the people who can't accept you for who you are, even if they are your blood relatives. 

This is a beautifully written novel that deeply touches your heart and soul.  This world would be a much better place with more individuals like Steven in it.
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As soon as I started to read this book, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It was an engaging tale of four teenagers in 1940s rural California. Steven, the main character, joins the long established friendship group of the other three boys. They welcome him in and all of their lives become intertwined. 

One weekend, they go hiking in the mountains. By the time they return to town, so much has changed. Pearl Harbor has been bombed, entering the US into World War 2 and leading to the internment of Japanese people living in the US. One of the boys, Nick, also stands accused of attempted murder - a crime he couldn't possibly have committed, but must deal with the consequences of.

The book captures the teenagers' sense of friendship, loyalty, love and not really belonging. It's a really well told story that shows, once again, what a great storyteller Catherine Ryan Hyde continues to be.
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I don't know how this author does it but every book reads like she IS the primary character she writing. It's spooky but wonderful. What wonderful characters populating this book. I imagine that even today it's still quite hard to 'come out' as different to your family and friends; it must had been seriously dangerous and scary to do so in the 1940s. What a great read. Love wins!
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I would like to thanks Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC for an honest review.

Enter Steven Katz, a young boy growing up in California in the year 1941. He is in the process of finding “himself” and befriends 3 school mates with different backgrounds, one Japanese,, Suki, one several years older,Ollie, and Nick whom he has feelings for.  It's a story of a teen finding himself while living in an era of prejudices regarding different nationalities and sexual leaning. They each have their struggles and burdens to bear.  

At the beginning, I was asking myself if I was going to finish this book but after delving a bit further I began to see the different issues that were being presented.  

It’s hard to say that this book was a pleasure to read but it did give you food for thought.  A bit of history as seen by a child versus through the eyes of an adult.
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Another beautifully written book by Catherine Ryan Hyde! This is a coming of age story with well developed characters who grab hold of your heart and take you on their deep and meaningful journeys. It is so wonderfully written, emotional and moving, with an ending fitting of the beautiful story found in its pages. Boy Underground will stay with me for a long time. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Not my usual genre but Loved this book. A young lad who experiences so much in his early years. The story is told as if you are sat with the author telling the story. Very thought provoking in parts. Hooked me from page 1 and I couldn’t put it down
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Catherine Ryan Hyde never disappoints. As with all her books she chooses a story that will make you think and pulls at your heart. Steven grows up with several challenges, His family expects him to fit in a mold that isn’t him. He chooses friends outside their “class”, doesn’t do sports etc. That doesn’t stop him from doing what he knows is  right.
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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. 
What a story about a boy coming of age in the 1940’s!!  You are taken through a time and place that is so different from today.   Emotional and enlightening!    This story will stay with me for quite a while!!
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