Sixteen-year-old Raymond doesn’t have any friends, so no one really understands what a kind young man he is. At least, not until his neighbor Millie Gutermann asks him a very strange question: Do you know Luis Velez?
Toggling between his divorced parents’ homes, Raymond has never felt wanted. At his mother’s apartment, he’s just an extra child his stepfather endures and his half sisters ignore. Except for baby Clarissa. She likes “Ray Ray." At his father’s posh apartment, Raymond keeps to himself, waiting to eat takeout pizza with his mostly silent father whose resentful second wife refuses to even stay home when Raymond is around. Despite his cold families, Raymond has a big heart, which so far he has opened to a stray cat hiding in the basement of an abandoned building. When he realizes that Millie, a blind 92-year-old woman, has lost the man who used to check in on her, making sure she got to the bank and grocery store, he steps up to the plate himself. Raymond also decides to track down Luis. Finding 21 Luis Velezes in the NYC phone directory, Raymond sets out to knock on doors. His quest introduces him to several Luis Velezes—some friendly and others not so much. The fate of Millie’s Luis devastates Millie, but Raymond refuses to give up on her. A master of making a heartwarming tale feel authentic and socially urgent, Hyde (Just After Midnight, 2018, etc.) deftly sketches the plights of Raymond and Millie, weighting their friendship with worries and regrets that echo as true. That authenticity often lies in the silences that Hyde lets linger when Raymond tries to process a compliment or Millie simply is present with her grief.
A tender tale of new families born of chance and the determination to bring light into darkness.