The latest book from multiple best-selling author Catherine Ryan Hyde, Have You Seen Luis Velez?, is one of her best, and I’ve read several.
We meet Raymond, a studious older teen with a soft spot for a stray cat, rushing from his apartment on the day before his best (and only) friend moves across the country. Before he can get out the door an ancient woman calls out to him, “Have you seen Luis Velez?” The woman – Mildred Gutermann – is blind, and Luis Velez had been coming to help her navigate to the bank and grocery, but Luis had inexplicably stopped showing up.
Raymond is the only child of his white mother’s first marriage to a black man, and he now feels out of place in a white family. His step-father’s income is less than that of his biological father, a dentist, but he isn’t allowed to accept expensive things from his dad. His dad’s second wife seems to despise him, so he doesn’t fit in there either.
Raymond determines Mildred needs help, and steps in where Luis disappeared. Raymond encounters extreme danger for his stray cat, and he begins a search for Luis. Do you know how many Luis Velezes live in the city?
Hyde uses a predictable formula. She takes a kid who needs help, adds an animal, and she weaves a story around them. Hyde is also known for including a thread in her books to promote acceptance of an alternate sexual orientation.
The addition of the older woman adds a refreshing element which is key to the success of Have You Seen Luis Velez?. Mildred’s back story incorporates references to the Holocaust, an important topic.
If you are going to choose one of Hyde’s books to read, this would be a good choice. Believe it or not, even with a slow-moving old blind woman there is suspense. Raymond meets some interesting people named Luis Velez in his search for the one who used to help his neighbor. Five stars!