Allie and Bea, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)


One thing I’ve learned while reading any Catherine Ryan Hyde novel, you never quite know what you’re going to find when you start reading. I had this idea in my mind, that an older woman and a young girl would set off on a Pacific Coast adventure, a modern-day Thelma and Louise, in a sense. And while there’s a fraction of that gritty spirit in Allie and Bea, it’s only scratching the surface.

There are many life or death moments in this story, beginning with Bea and her plight. While discovering who she was as a character, I pictured my own eighty-two year old grandmother in Bea’s shoes, leaving her home and everything, other than her pet, behind, living in an old van that had never been built as living quarters. While my grandmother has admitted to camping out on the Oregon coast in her own minivan, with her three poodles in recent years, I feel as though that in and of itself is an amazing feat. To go through the experiences Bea has, I can’t fathom it. But, I’m sure there are many who have had to go the same route, in order to survive.

Allie is also trying hard to survive. Plenty is mentioned in the synopsis on Allie’s hurdles, but there is plenty that isn’t. Hyde brings to the forefront the social issues that plague us, stories ripped from the headlines that many of us turn a blind eye to. Allie finds herself right in the thick of it all, until Bea saves her, like a knight in dulled metal armor.

I really appreciated the character evolution that takes place for both ladies. Both have their own opinions on how the world works, shaped by their environment and life experiences. Sometimes, life shakes in order for lessons to be learned, for growth to occur. This was a truthful look into the dark, and how when you least expect it, a lifeline will appear from out of nowhere, ready to reel you in upon the great unknown.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

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