A war had just been declared in Iraq. It was a tumultuous time for so many of us in 2003. For Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, the war hit very close to home. Their older brother Joseph was active duty, and had already deployed out. When he returns home early from his deployment, none of them could fathom the utter turmoil that would come from it.
In Ask Him Why, nothing is as it seems. We’re led to believe that the reason for Joseph’s early return, the reason he’s been dishonorably discharged from the military, is fueled by cowardice. He was given a direct order and had backed out, not only disobeying, but encouraging other military personnel to follow his lead. It’s an all out mutiny, and in the eyes of the military, the public and even his own family, Joseph must pay the price. But is he really a coward?
Told from Ruth’s and Aubrey’s perspectives, this story begins where Joseph’s story is left unfinished. What happens to a family under severe public scrutiny? Is there a way to escape the paparazzi, news cameras, the judgement from everyone around you, even when you’re not the one at fault? When Joseph disappears for nearly a decade, it’s hard on Ruth and Aubrey. In so many ways, they’ve been left to deal with the fall out, the pain of losing their much adored brother and never really measuring up in the eyes of society.
Both children are haunted by the past, even ten years later when Joseph suddenly reappears. So much has changed, yet nothing has changed. Will they ever be able to forgive? Will Joseph ever be able to forgive himself?
I enjoyed Ask Him Why immensely. I could appreciate the realism behind each character’s struggle, trying to come to grips with their flawed lives as best they can. We live in a world where our ideas and opinions are viewed as black and white, and this story lends to the fact that in reality, it’s shades of gray that holds us together. If only other people could recognize that.
Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review. This is part of their Cozy Reads blog tour.
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