Hyde (Love In The Present Tense, 2006, etc.) chronicles two New Yorkers’ efforts to escape their different but equally constricting lives in a sweet tale openly modeled on West Side Story.
Alternating chapters between the two main characters, the author begins with Sebastian, a naïve 17-year-old who chafes under the domination of his strange, obsessive father. Home schooling prevents him from making friends his own age, and he’s almost completely isolated until a doctor’s orders give him a chance to escape his stifling apartment for a few hours each day to get fresh air and exercise. Sebastian spends most of his free time with his only friend, Delilah, an older black woman who has rented an apartment to be near her new grandchild. Delilah doesn’t just provide companionship, she also gives him permission to start living for himself. Aimlessly riding the subway late at night just to get out of the house, Sebastian sees a young woman who, like him, goes to the end of the line and back. The two feel an instantaneous spark and, despite several miscues, finally manage to connect. Her name is Maria, and she’s riding the Lexington Avenue line during the hours she’d normally be working to keep her abusive boyfriend Carl, father of her two children, from discovering that she’s lost her job. When she and Sebastian find themselves falling in love, they see a chance to escape from their individual traps. She nicknames him “Tony,” so they’ll be Tony and Maria, just like in West Side Story. While the two plan, motherless Sebastian makes a devastating discovery that sends him to California to see his grandmother. That journey takes both him and Maria to the edge of a life-changing decision.
A gentle tale centering on how people come to grip with their pasts.