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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Ask Him Why

ISBN: 9781503950894

Publisher: Lake Union

Publication Date: 12/15/2015

Format: Harcover

My Rating: 5 Stars

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes the stunning and emotional story of a young soldier’s unthinkable act . . . and the bonds of a sister and brother’s love.

Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, are just teenagers when their older brother ships off to Iraq. When Joseph returns, uninjured, only three and a half months later, Ruth is happy he is safe but also deeply worried. How can it be that her courageous big brother has been dishonorably discharged for refusing to go out on duty? Aubrey can’t believe that his hero doesn’t have very good reasons.

Yet as the horrifying details of the incident emerge, Joseph disappears. In their attempts to find him, Ruth and Aubrey discover he has a past far darker than either of them could imagine. But even as they learn more about their brother, important questions remain unanswered—why did he betray his unit, his country, and now his family? Joseph’s refusal to speak ignites a fire in young Aubrey that results in a disastrous, and public, act of rebellion.

The impact of Joseph’s fateful decision one night in Baghdad will echo for years to come, with his siblings caught between their love for him and the media’s engulfing frenzy of judgment. Will their family ever make their way back to each other and find a way to forgive?

My Review

A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can always expect a moving, emotional, thought-provoking, and wise message from Catherine Ryan Hyde-- woven through the eloquent words of her powerful, unforgettable novels. With ASK HIM WHY, there is much more than good storytelling, and a powerful message--- A novel you want to dissect, to dig deeper.

A flawed broken family. Daughter, Ruth (Duck), Younger son, Aubrey (Mr. Universe), and older son, Joseph. Brad and Janet – parents. A therapist (Luanne). Mistakes are made. Strong words are said. Betrayal. Consequences. Wasted Years. A bold takeaway message of Hope, redemption, inspiration, and forgiveness. A stranger, a wise unselfish man (Hammish MacCallum) who pulls together a lost family. A saver of lives. Don’t we all wish we had more "Ham’s" in this world? It would be a much better place. Ruth, a girl caught in the middle of two troubled brothers, desperately trying to put the pieces of their lives back together, even as a grown adult. Where presumptions only serve to mislead you. Many obstacles: the war, Iraq, a mission, a cliff, expectations, media, assumptions, troubled young adults, a broken family. ASK HIM WHY is like a complex puzzle. A broken family. This family does not know how to be a family. No communication. Silence is socially acceptable. Outward appearances matter. Parents handing down bad habits to their own children. What might a real family look like? When there are no role models, bad habits continue through generations, until a disaster, a tragedy ---recalculating. Sometimes this takes an outsider, a stranger, to lead the wayward back on the correct path. Strongly reminding me of a quote, “Maybe it isn’t that we’re supposed to find the pieces and put them back together. Maybe we’re the pieces. Maybe, what we’re supposed to do is come together. That’s how we stop the breaking.” If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. If you’re working at solving a puzzle, it is impossible to force the pieces to fit. If you try and force pieces where they don’t belong, the rounded edges will separate and crease, damaging the puzzle. While reading many books, there are those rare, intriguing few which stand out. Ask Him is one of those. Most readers read a novel for simple entertainment. I also enjoy dissecting or understanding the inspiration behind the novel. The construction. The hidden meanings. The message. With authors in particular such as Catherine Ryan Hyde with a long list of successful books, readers (myself included), tend to compare one novel to another. Each novel deserves to stand on its own accord. What I enjoy about Hyde and Koontz, in particular; their writing is unique, clever, original, and no one book is like the other. You see reviews all over the board. Each reader receives a different message. Sometimes there is more than the outward appearance. The obvious. It urges you to dig deeper, for the hidden meaning, the extraordinary, lingering characters remaining with you. A book written from the heart. An ideal book for young and older adults, and those in between. Powerful! Always curious how authors take a small spark of an idea, an inspiration, and build something incredible---the thought behind the masterpiece. Having read no hints about how this book came to be; I am positive Hyde has an intriguing story. I for one would love to hear it—with an author Q&A. Perfect timing with today’s national controversial headlines of war, unrest, terrorism, suicide, bullying, and hatred. There are so many mixed messages of good versus evil. A strong novel! Ask Him Why is a complex book, you need to think about--to ponder. It draws you in. There is a thought process. It is one of those rare books, which does not use the sensational…"See Me" I am great, you have to read me. It is a more slow burning, deeper novel --calling you into the wee hours of the morning.Characters, events, emotions, words, actions. There is so much depth here; however, you need to peel back the layers. You will find yourself bookmarking so many pages of beautiful prose. Literary criticism can be at times, like the focus of this novel. Judgmental. This novel grows from the inside out, full of metaphors and life lessons. Ask. When you don’t know something, you ask. You don’t assume. No one asked for Joseph’s side of the story. No one seems curious as to why he did what he did? There are always two sides to a coin. Aren't we all guilty of doing the same? There is also Forgiveness. Some of my favorite quotes:

Ruth: “How to start the pattern of silence. So innocently, and on such a small scale, and then once you open the door for them, they barge in and take on a life of their own.” Ham: “Good to get the truth out into the air. Everything grows best in oxygen and sunlight except secrets and guilt and regrets. They like the dark spaces. Drag them out into the light and they fail to thrive.” Ruth: “No pressure, I thought. Just a dying family member with a dying wish that’s probably impossible, but it’s my job to make it come true. No worries. Happy holidays to all. I’ll do my best.” Joseph: “I learned a good lesson a long time ago, too, Mr. Universe: never assume you’ll have a million more chances.” Ham: “They didn’t get what they needed from their folks, so now they can’t give you kids what they don’t have. They’re victims and the perpetrators, both, and the cycle just keeps going around and around. And I don’t know what do to stop it, any more than anybody else does, except I just know bacon and eggs and potatoes. It doesn’t fix everything, but it makes a dent, and anyway, like said before, I can only do what I can do and no more.” “Hammy says you can’t unroll a snowball. Just like you can’t un-ring a bell. We are responsible for what we do.” Ham: "Nothing in this life is simple. When trouble comes to the world. They try to make things black and white, but nothing ever will be. It’s where all the bad stuff gets its start. There’s the trouble people make by trying to shape the world to suit them and failing.” "Janet and Brad broke Joseph, and Hamish MacCallum patched him up and got him halfway back together again." "How would you feel it you had to wait ten and half years, for someone to, ask, why?" "You can heal your own self first, but most people never do. Maybe because you have to start by admitting you’re broken." Aubrey to Luanne: "Sometimes I wonder why I pay you money to have this stuff shoved in my face." Luanne: "If it helps to be reminded, Aubrey, you don’t pay me much." The ending: PRICELESS! Highly Recommend.

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“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”--Deepak Chopra

About the Author

Born in Buffalo, New York, Catherine Ryan Hyde moved to New York City shortly after graduating from high school. With a plan to do something other than writing—something that might provide a steadier paycheck—Hyde worked as a baker, pastry chef, auto mechanic, dog trainer, and tour guide. Hyde moved to a small town on California’s Central Coast in the mid-1980s.

After coming to terms with alcohol and drug addiction, she realized she needed to write and hunkered down. She’s been clean and sober for over twenty-five years and is the author of thirty books and numerous short stories, which have won literary accolades throughout the world. Hyde’s bestselling novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture and translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in over thirty countries. Read More






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