Virginia is a waitress at a diner set a bit off from town. She and Aaron, a diner regular who is a widower with a four year old son, have tiptoed around starting a relationship for a while but that hasn't stopped Virginia from fantasizing about a life with this kind man and his sweet child. When Aaron finally asks her on a date and they share their first kiss, it seems as if they are on the road to just what Virginia wants. But a terrible tragedy later that night robs them of that future. Fast forward nineteen years. Virginia has never forgotten Aaron and little Buddy but she is now engaged to Lloyd. She and her friend Fern are now the owners of the diner they've worked at for so many years. Fern doesn't understand why Virginia is going to marry Lloyd, who is a not very nice person and a lazy lay-about, and she convinces Virginia to really think about her intentions.
Jody is a young man in his early twenties living with his grandfather in a remote cabin in the woods. He's socially awkward and incapable of reading others. His grandfather suffers from dementia so Jody is all on his own taking care of him. When he sees a man in a red pick-up truck dump a dog out in the woods and then drive away during the coldest part of winter, he is horrified and takes the dog in as his own, renaming him Worthy. When he sees pictures of Worthy posted around town as a lost dog, he doesn't respond, figuring the owner doesn't deserve the dog. But Worthy is actually Virginia's dog, T-Rex, who was abandoned by Lloyd in a malicious act that clarifies his character for Virginia when she discovers it and Virginia is missing the dog something fierce. When they each discover the truth about the dog they love, Virginia and Jody forge a tentative connection. Worthy has led the two of them, both needing a friend, to each other.
Virginia is a dreamy, pie in the sky kind of character. She's so desperate to be loved that she is willing to settle for someone like Lloyd, who could abandon her beloved dog to die. She has never let go of her image of the perfect life she could have led with Aaron and Buddy, still mourning and idealizing the past nearly two decades on. Jody is uncomfortable with others, emotionally isolated, and clearly damaged by his upbringing. He is skittish and doesn't understand basic human interaction and his plan to live alone and without a job after his grandfather dies and the small pension check they get every month is completely unrealistic. Jody is an odd duck. Both of these characters were a little bit frustrating, living so outside reality and the feel good resolution to whose dog T-Rex/Worthy will be comes across as just a bit too much. The grand coincidence of the novel was never a surprise but I actually found myself hoping that Hyde wouldn't take the easy way out instead letting Fern's insightful statement to Virginia stand. Although it ultimately didn't work for me, many people will probably enjoy this idealized, if unrealistic, novel about moving on after tragedy and loss and the healing power of connection and love.
For more information on Catherine Ryan Hyde and the book, visit her webpage, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Google Plus, Twitter, or Pinterest. Check out the book's GoodReads page. For others' opinions on the book, check it out on Amazon.
Thanks to the publisher and BookSparks PR for sending me a copy of the book for review.