Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: The Wake Up

By Sara Steven

Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There’s a sleepy comfort to this story, set in a small town where everyone knows everyone. A vast setting filled with sprawling farmland and trees, horses idling within their stalls and cattle that roam pastures. The characters are just as ingrained into the setting, most who have lived their whole lives this way, cattle ranchers who have boots planted firmly on rich soil. It presented an important background to the struggle Aiden faces. His livelihood depends on the nature of his cattle business, a business that he could detach from completely, only now there’s no separating the way he feels from the way all living things feel when he’s around them. It’s as though they are one and the same.

A lot of mirroring occurs in The Wake Up, between many of the characters; what one feels they are in need of, they can find within the other, and vice versa. While Aiden deals with the ability to feel what others feel, Milo can’t feel a thing. In so many ways, the struggles this relationship suffers through, is what brings them closer together, and even with that, it’s terrifying for both. In order to feel he can move on with his life and find some way to balance out his newfound gift, he wants to be with Gwen. But it’s hard when Milo is the antithesis of everything Aiden stands for.

Something I’ve always appreciated about Catherine Ryan Hyde, is her ability to tackle difficult topics, and it’s done in such a way that is intricate and beautiful. My heart broke for Milo, for all those who deal with the fallout of what he’s been through, and I could also understand Aiden’s frustration. There was a particular scene, where Aiden and Milo have an altercation due to one of Aiden’s beloved animals, and I could feel the seething emotions, could sense the fear from both man and child. It was powerful moments like that one, that made The Wake Up such an intense and enjoyable read.

Thanks to Lake Union for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Catherine Ryan Hyde:

No comments: