Thursday, May 20, 2021

"Seven Perfect Things"

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 40 published and forthcoming books.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Seven Perfect Things, and reported the following:
This is most, but not all, of page 69:
Viv sat across the table and unfolded a paper napkin in her lap. She dug in, so Mary dug in, too, even though she was more interested in talking than eating.

She glanced around the kitchen and into the living room. It was the first time she’d seen Viv’s house. Viv kept it clean, but cluttered. It was obvious that young children lived here. There were crayon drawings secured to the fridge with magnets, and a plastic big-wheeled trike parked next to the coffee table.

“This is good,” Mary said.

“I like it in the summer. So go on with what you were saying. You’re worried about Abby.”

“Right. So that day, the day she said she’d be late because of swim practice, she was also late getting to school in the morning. By over an hour. The school called me, because they thought it was an absence. And I asked why there would be a swim practice so close to summer vacation. Nobody knew a darn thing about it, Viv.”

“Saw that one coming,” Viv said.

“So she didn’t get home till nearly dark. And I didn’t ask. I feel bad about that. Like I was being cowardly. Like one of those mothers who’re afraid to draw a hard line, like maybe their kid won’t like them anymore if they do. I’m not saying it’s impossible for me to fall into that. But I sure try not to. The main reason I didn’t ask is because it’s obvious that she’s willing to lie to me now, and so what’s the point of asking, really? She won’t tell me the truth. It’s hurtful to me though, because I thought we had a better relationship than that. I didn’t think she would lie to my face.”

“Any kid’ll lie if the truth is far enough from what her mother wants to hear. So what’s your guess?”

“I think she has a boyfriend.”
Mary’s daughter, Abby, is one of three viewpoint characters in Seven Perfect Things. She’s only 13. She does not have a boyfriend. She has something much more innocent—seven puppies that she rescued from drowning. They are a secret because she can’t bring them home.

I honestly think Elliot’s and Abby’s point-of-view narration are probably more dominant and more essential to driving the plot. In that respect, I think the Page 69 test is not absolutely ideal for this book. Then again, the bond between a mother and daughter in a very unhappy home is an important part of the story. Mary is determined to protect Abby, and she soon figures out that Abby is keeping the puppies. Her decision to do nothing—to let Abby have her own life experiences and learn from her own mistakes—speaks strongly of Mary as a character. It was the moment, while writing this book, that it dawned on me how much I liked her.

So it’s not a bad Page 69 Test, either.
Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde's website.

Q&A with Catherine Ryan Hyde.

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--Marshal Zeringue