In the summer of 1969, 14-year-old Lucas Painter takes up running in the woods behind his house and ends up saving three lives, one of them his own.
It all begins when two enormous dogs start chasing him one afternoon, and Lucas is delighted to discover that Rembrandt and Vermeer, two Weimaraner–Great Dane mixes, are out to play rather than attack. Running with them is a great way to escape the tension in his own home, where his parents do nothing but argue while his big brother, Roy, has been drafted to fight in Vietnam. But one morning the dogs won’t budge from the porch, and Lucas discovers that their owner, the mysterious Zoe Dinsmore, has tried to take her own life. By fetching help, Lucas saves Zoe’s life, and in the months that follow, Zoe saves Lucas’ life, too. Ostracized by the town for an accident years earlier, Zoe keeps to herself. But as Lucas shows up every day, the two slowly forge a profound friendship. Meanwhile, Lucas’ best friend, Connor, is struggling with his own demons. Rather than helplessly watch Connor slip deeper into depression, Lucas introduces him to Zoe, whose ability to listen without judgment becomes a lifeline. So when Roy returns, wounded and troubled, it’s only natural that Lucas and Zoe find a way to help him, too. A master of tales shaped for the human heart, Hyde (Have You Seen Luis Velez?, 2019, etc.) deftly balances tears against courage, avoiding trite sentimentality. Lucas and Connor both come from troubled homes, but the troubles ring true, never gratuitously abusive; and Hyde never plays Zoe’s and Roy’s tribulations for melodramatic effect.
A compelling tale of damage and the healing powers of acceptance.