Have You Seen Luis Velez? focuses on this question: Are we truly alone in the world? More importantly, if someone is in need, what should we do?
Have You Seen Luis Velez? | Book Information
Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Length: 320 pages
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Nor at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?
Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.
Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to.
Raymond is trying to figure out his place in the world. His best friend moving across the country further cements his thoughts that he’s truly alone. This changes after Mildred Gutermann enters his life, by way of chance.
Instead of dismissing Mildred’s requests in seeking Luis Velez, her former caretaker, Raymond comes to her aid. Throughout the book, his search dives into humanity’s lens. Each Luis Velez he meets is different from the other. Additionally, Raymond learns that everyone have their own life stories to tell.
Characters and Atmosphere
Have You Seen Luis Velez? is set in New York City. This is an area that is rich in diversity and personality. As we learn about Luis Velez’s life, we’re taken into an exploration into race and class. It’s a deep exploration into racial divides which could define the fate of every one of us. Although Raymond is barely an adult, he quickly learns about the unjust differences life brings to humanity.
Furthermore, Raymond is also navigating the differences within his two home environments. He has two homes with two step-parents, neither making him feel welcome. It takes Mildred’s helpful guidance to realize that patience is needed to ‘make peace with your family of origin’.
Mildred provides Raymond with valuable life lessons. What begins as regular check-ins on her well-being gradually shifts into a valuable friendship. Both Raymond and Mildred use their life experiences to guide towards a deeper understanding of one another. In spite of their age differences, they form a close bond.
Writing Style & Plot
I found Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing style easy to take in. During some points I felt that the meetups dragged on; however, this didn’t pull me away. Every emotion experienced jumps out through every page. There were many diverse characters, yet I could feel exactly what each person was living through. Each joy and sorrow was never overlooked. Also, it was memorable to walk with Raymond as he discovered each new person and family in his quest!
Intrigue and Engagement
I enjoyed Have You Seen Luis Velez? from start to finish. The characters were enjoyable, and I was constantly curious in what would happen next. Everything about Raymond and Mildred’s life journeys were memorable to read!
Have You Seen Luis Velez: Recommendations
I recommend Have You Seen Luis Velez? to those interested in both Contemporary and coming of age stories. Historical Fiction readers will also enjoy this story!
In conclusion, this book is a worthwhile read for people of all ages. Have You Seen Luis Velez? touches on humanity’s close bond with one another. Indeed, we’re never truly alone!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Previous Review: Please Pick Me by Reina Regina