Tuesday, December 12, 2023

"A Different Kind of Gone"

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

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Different Kind of Gone, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“I feel like I want to ask you…”

But Teresa did not seem inclined to finish that thought.

“What? Go ahead.”

“Like I want you to tell me what my life is going to look like now.”

“How would I know that?”

“I know. That’s why almost I didn’t finish the sentence.” She brushed long strands of her blonde hair back, flipping them behind her shoulder. “For some reason I’ve started thinking of you as some kind of expert on everything. Like you know life so much better than I do and can tell me just about anything.”

“I been around longer, is all.”

“You’re not any kind of oracle. I know that. But you seem to be thinking more clearly than I am about how this might play out.”

“Maybe,” Norma said.

“I’d like to hear your thoughts at least. I feel like… like everything changes from here. And it’s got me off balance.”

“Everything does change from here. My ex-husband… back before he was my ex, he used to say ‘Buckle up, buttercup.’ And oh, I hated him for it. But, really, you do need to strap in for this.”


“Well, first of all, I hope you have a plan for her to live incognito.”

“Owen does. Her eyes are her most distinctive feature, so he’s going to get her brown contacts. And of course she’ll cut her hair and dye it. We won’t really know if that’s going to be enough until we see it. And of course we’ll get her a new name with ID and all.”

“It’s going to be a very weird time for you,” Norma said. “You know the way you’ve been living the last couple of days? On pins and needles waiting for news? Going nuts in every possible way because you don’t know if your only child is alive or dead? Well, you’re going to have to keep living like that’s the case. For a very, very long time.”

“Oh,” Teresa said.

“You hadn’t thought of that?”
I’ve done a few of these Page 69 Tests now, and I think this particular page 69 is my pick for representing its book well.

What I like most is the way it drops the readers into a conversation-in-progress, and they can’t quite know what’s going on. But the references are intriguing, and I think the kind of curiosity it evokes is the kind that helps readers decide to buy a book and bring it home. And it’s not a false picture of intrigue, either. It’s what the novel is about.

When I’m working with my developmental editor, she’ll always mark places where she didn’t understand the reference. She’ll say “We don’t know who this is,” or “I don’t know why she said that.” And it’s almost always something I did on purpose. I say “No, you don’t know… yet.” Curiosity pulls me along when I’m reading. I have a shaky attention span, and I need the pulling. Once every one of my questions are settled I might as well put the book down and go for a walk or clean my refrigerator.

The second reason I like the page is because it shows a lot about Norma’s character. The phrase “Norma knows a lot” turns up here and there in the novel. This simple exchange with the “missing” girl’s mother paints a very clear picture of Norma’s competence, and the way others tend to look up to her experience and good sense. And she is the rock at the heart of this book, so that works well, in my opinion.
Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde's website.

Q&A with Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Page 69 Test: Brave Girl, Quiet Girl.

The Page 69 Test: My Name is Anton.

The Page 69 Test: Seven Perfect Things.

The Page 69 Test: Boy Underground.

The Page 69 Test: Dreaming of Flight.

The Page 69 Test: So Long, Chester Wheeler.

--Marshal Zeringue