Review: Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan Hyde

1941. Steven Katz is the son of prosperous landowners in rural California. Although his parents don’t approve, he’s found true friends in Nick, Suki, and Ollie, sons of field workers. The group is inseparable. But Steven is in turmoil. He’s beginning to acknowledge that his feelings for Nick amount to more than friendship.

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor draws the US into World War II, Suki and his family are forced to leave their home for the internment camp at Manzanar. Ollie enlists in the army and ships out. And Nick must flee. Betrayed by his own father and accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he turns to Steven for help. Hiding Nick in a root cellar on his family’s farm, Steven acts as Nick’s protector and lifeline to the outside world.

As the war escalates, bonds deepen and the fear of being different falls away. But after Nick unexpectedly disappears one day, Steven’s life focus is to find him. On the way, Steven finds a place he belongs and a lesson about love that will last him his lifetime


I am always in awe of how beautifully Catherine Ryan Hyde writes. She can write any genre or time period and still create a masterpiece. As you can already tell, I am certainly a big fan of this author.

Steven was a bit of a loner when he met Nick, Suki and Ollie. The 4 friends are from different worlds. Whereas Steven’s parents are farm owners, his friends’ parents are farm workers. However, these 3 guys had a major impact on Steven and the man that he became. This friendship brought him a lot of tears, sorrow but in the midst of chaos, Steven also found himself. I must say, I was truly proud of the man that he became.

The main time period in this story is the 1940s. So much was going on then. There was a war and young men were enlisting. On American soil, the Japanese were no longer welcome and they were taken away into camps. When I think of camps, my mind goes to the Nazi regime. However, the horrific profiling of nationalities was not just restricted to German occupied territories.

This is a beautiful, emotive story about friendship, family, loss, acceptance and personal growth. As always, Catherine brings characters and settings alive, she flawlessly did that again in this story.   I was captivated and flew through the pages like I haven’t done in quite a while.  What a thought-provoking, poignant read! Highly recommended!