Walter's Purple Heart
Walter's Purple Heart was my third and last Simon & Schuster novel, my fifth published book, released in the Spring of 2002. It's back in "print" in ebook format as of October 2012.
There's a reason I brought these backlist titles out in ebook only: for those who prefer paper books, there are lots of hardcovers still to be had. Both Amazon and Barnes Noble online have out-of-print books listed, both new and used, and Abebooks.com is a good source as well.
In my own words:
Michael Steeb is an aimless 21-year-old pot farmer, going nowhere in a Central California town. Walter Crowley was a young soldier killed in the Second World War 40 years earlier. What do these two have in common? They are the same person. Walter’s spirit was reincarnated as Michael. Yet Walter is still separate, still very much Walter. When Michael, playing with his roommate’s Ouija board, asks why, Walter the spirit says, “I wasn’t done being Walter. I think I’m stuck.”
And he has exploded into Michael’s life for a reason. Only Michael can get him unstuck. Walter wants him to find Andrew, Walter’s best buddy from the war years, and Mary Ann, the fiancée he left behind. Michael finds them—married to each other. Now his task is to convince them that he has access to the memories of their loved one 40 years gone. Mary Ann is “a knower,” and not a tough sell. She can sense the familiar in Michael. Andrew doesn’t bend easily, and he sets out to prove that Michael is the worst sort of con man. Meanwhile the old romance rekindles between Michael and Mary Ann, despite the harsh reality of the difference in their ages.
Michael must do the near impossible: lead Walter’s mother and middle-aged brother to some kind of closure, make a believer of Andrew, and deliver the truth about Walter’s purple heart and the forgiveness that’s been missing for so many years.
Here's what the reviewers had to say:
The Denver Post said, "In her latest remarkable novel, 'Walter's Purple Heart,' Catherine Ryan Hyde serves up 315 distinctive pages of reconciliation and hope. 'Walter's Purple Heart,' has been called 'sentimental,' as if that negates its literary and human value, when the opposite is actually true. Hyde subtly captures the most powerful elements of sentiment—qualities we all recognize and understand—and adds a dash of metaphysical hope. She suggests that when it comes to love, nothing is ever truly lost, but rather redirected. In the hands of a lesser author, the effort might have fallen flat. But thanks to Catherine Ryan Hyde's unwavering brilliance, 'Walter's Purple Heart' is a clear-cut gem—just what the doctor ordered for a nation with wounds on the mend." (Kelly Milner Halls)
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said, "With 'Pay It Forward,' Catherine Ryan Hyde displayed her talent for portraying human emotions. She underscores that gift with 'Walter's Purple Heart' in which she not only tugs at heartstrings but also deftly plays them while building to a poignant crescendo. It takes a perceptive and gentle-hearted writer to create a Walter who says, '...there's nothing so remarkable about me. Except that I'm Walter. And I'm Walter in a way that nobody else ever has been before or ever will be again. And I honestly believe that Walter-ness counts for something.' Indeed, it does." (Gail Cooke)
Library Journal said, "Hyde is a remarkable, insightful storyteller, creating full-bodied characters whose dialogue rings true, with not a word to spare. This is likely to gain the same attention, and probable film treatment as her Pay It Forward: it's compelling enough that readers may find themselves finishing it at a single sitting."
Booklist said, "Hyde's previous novels contain an element of the extraordinary, and this one is no different. With humor and thoughtfulness, Hyde crafts a plot unconventional yet comfortably familiar."