Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 12/5/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars
Master storyteller, Catherine Ryan Hyde returns following (2017) Allie and Bea and (2016) Say Good-Bye for Now landing on my Top Books of 2016 with her latest emotional, moving, and heartfelt novel THE WAKE UP – a spiritual journey of rediscovery, self-worth, hope, and acceptance.
A man and a boy have lost their way. Fate steps in and connects these two in unexpected ways. They slowly learn they have more in common than they may know. Each will ultimately find solace in a past of abuse and injustice, with trust and love.
Empathy equals good. Lack of empathy equals bad. Is there a balance?
Aiden Delacorte a single forty-year-old cattle rancher. He inherited the ranch from his deceased stepfather, which had adopted him. His mother has dementia and in a home in Buffalo.
One day while hunting, something odd happens to Aiden. He shoots a buck and at the same time, literally falls to the grown, in horrible pain. He is feeling the animal’s pain.
Shocked, he discovers he has "empathy" for animals in a way he cannot tolerate slaughter, dressing, or eating the animals. His so-called gift will cause him disgrace among other ranchers and cattlemen, and his present girlfriend, Livia. They break up. She does not understand this new Aiden.
THE WAKE UP. There was something different about that day. Even before it became painfully obvious. Even before it left Aiden no choice but to fully live through it. Slowly he starts feeling the feelings of animals, and even some humans. (both good and bad).
Aiden was also abused by his biological father and has repressed some of his past. He recalls drowning his fear with a bottle at a young age and became an alcoholic. He has been clean for years; a fine and upstanding citizen.
The worst part, with his new gift, he will have to give up his career and sell off his cattle. Would his stepfather be ashamed of him or tell him to follow his heart? Others would make fun of him for not being a real man.
In the meantime, he seeks the help of a psychiatrist, Hannah to get a handle on his life. He also meets Gwen a single mother in town and clerk at the grocery store. She has two children: Elizabeth and Milo.
Milo is a troubled child. Abused in many ways by his father. Gwen has her hands full with the boy. Gwen and Aiden begin dating one another. Elizabeth adores Aiden; however, Milo is acting out in unspeakable ways and Aiden becomes involved in the process.
When Aiden sees this, first he is upset at his cruelty to animals; however, decides he will help the boy, even though he makes it literally impossible at times. He needs to teach him differently. Can he trust him with the animals, he dearly loves?
Gwen and her children move into a little cabin on Aiden’s property and their relationship progresses. Elizabeth warms up to Aiden immediately; however, Milo is a different story. He is a very sensitive boy, due to his past abuse.
He needs someone to believe in him.
Milo struggles with never being good enough. The fear. However, Aiden is persistent and determined to demonstrate taking something ugly and broken to pieces, can be put back to together and into something beautiful. However, it involves a big dose of trust. Taking a chance on a boy. To care for a precious colt.
From past to present while working with Dr. Hannah Rutledge, Alien revisits his past and his demons. From a boy to the present 40-year-old man, he discovers hidden truths of his own life, which may ultimately help rebuild Milo and at the same time, provide answers to his own problems.
Breaking the cycle of abuse. Healing from the darkest places. Using trust and love to overcome tragedy. This newfound empathy of Aiden’s touches every part of his life, and discovers the importance of compassion, love, and acceptance—and at the same time able to pass along tools to help Milo change his life, as well.
A father who finds a son defective and unworthy of love. From hiding the pain to acting out. The emotion had to go somewhere. A haunting and beautifully written story of love, loss, hope, trust, and rediscovery.
I especially enjoyed how Aiden uses the love of animals, and the broken pots turned into mosaic art to transform a young boy. A lesson for us all in today’s cruel world. Instead of punishment, drugs, and doctors –taking the time to learn what causes the pain. Teaching, understanding, and patience.Offering ways to channel the rage in other ways to promote healing and self-esteem that has been torn down.
Catherine Ryan Hyde has a special gift with stories of the heart. Her love of animals is reflective throughout THE WAKE UP. Extraordinary! Each of her stories possesses power and emotion. Thought-provoking, with a strong takeaway message. Each is unique and different and enjoy how she connects lost souls in unexpected and magical ways.
An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. (guide included). If you have not read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book, you are missing a rare opportunity. You will learn something every time you open her books as the characters jump off the page.
Upcoming: From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a bittersweet novel about healing old wounds and finding a new place to call home… Heaven Adjacent coming May 22, 2018! A definite pre-order. Be sure to add this one to your reading list for the new year.
A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.