By: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 12/5/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars
From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a hauntingly emotional novel of how one man’s life changes forever when he rediscovers his ability to feel the pain of others.
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.
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A POPSUGAR Winter Must-Read Selection
“Memorable and well-plotted…The heartfelt latest from Hyde (Allie and Bea)…shows how trust can eventually help to heal trauma.” —Publishers Weekly
“Like Hyde’s bestselling Pay It Forward, this novel casts light into the dark recesses of human emotions, offering the welcome balm of romance.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Prolific novelist Hyde, author of Pay it Forward (1999) [and] Allie and Bea (2017), delivers another touching story of resilience and hope that feels cinematic in scope.” —Booklist
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 and 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 discovers the importance of compassion, love, and acceptance—and at the same time he is able to pass along to Milo the tools necessary to 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.
Dec Must Reads
About the Author
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-two published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts as well as the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. Read More