It is hard to find words to describe The Day I Killed James. It is a compelling and absorbing book in many ways. The plot is one I'm not sure I could really describe except as an inner journey.
The characters are what really propels this book forward. This is definitely for people who, like me, love character driven novels. I felt that I truly understood the actions and choices of the protagonist. I did not once feel she was acting irrational, stupid, or that she should just get over it.
The only thing I didn't like was that I didn't get to understand secondary characters as well as the main character. Considering the role she played in the novel, I felt that I never really got to understand Cathy the way I did Theresa or James.
Catherine Ryan Hyde is able to reveal many truths about people and life through the protagonist's journey. Even though the book contains these philosophical ideas or lessons, it never gets preachy. They are more suggestions or new ways to view things that gently guide the protagonist on her journey.
As it is pointed out in the novel, we just don't know what is going on inside other people because we're only inside ourselves. I think that idea sums up the novel nicely because it is showing that even though people may appear to act irrationally or stupidly, there are underlying causes that we just don't understand because we're not that person and never will be.