Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
After reading Say Goodbye for Now, I was taken by Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing and couldn’t wait to read more of her books. So, when the author reported that her latest novel, The Wake Up, would be available on Netgalley.com, I rushed over to download a copy. With my busy schedule, it took me some time to get to read it, but once I started, I couldn’t put it down.
Cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte thought he had it made, with a successful ranch and a hot girlfriend, but something happened shortly after he turned forty, something that would leave him wondering just what does he have after all. Suddenly, Aiden is hypersensitive to everything every animal he encounters goes through. He can’t ride his horses, because he feels their pain. He can’t go hunting, because he feels his prey’s pain once he shoots it. He can’t handle his cattle, because he feels their fear and the pain they go through during castration. He can’t handle the fear and dread that course through him every time his neighbor kills one of the rabbits he raises for food.
Aiden feels like he is losing his mind…until he meets Gwen. Just recently moved to this small town, Gwen works at the local supermarket and, the minute she speaks to him, Aiden feels like everything will be alright. When he eventually tells her about his heightened empathy with animals, she doesn’t run away. In fact, she makes Aiden feel like it’s a good thing. So, when it finally comes time to meet her children, Aiden is a little excited…and a little worried he might mess things up. From all accounts, Gwen’s daughter, Elizabeth, is great. It’s her son, Milo, who will present a challenge…at least that is what he keeps hearing.
When Aiden finally interacts with Milo, he finally realizes what people were talking about, but he is determined to make this work. Milo reminds Aiden of him when he was little, just meeting the man who would become his stepfather for the first time. Unfortunately, Milo is even more determined to push him away. An unfortunate incident involving Aiden’s animals and Milo leads to a broken arm and Aiden seeking help from a therapist. As Aiden works with his new doctor, he begins to remember things about his childhood – things that help him understand the way Milo is lashing out and how to deal with it.
But once Aiden learns just what it is that Milo has been through to cause his behavior, will Aiden be able to handle it. And when Aiden’s empathy grows, will it help his relationship with Gwen and her children or will it tear them apart?
Catherine Ryan Hyde is an amazing writer. She creates characters that we can relate to and root for, then wraps a storyline around them that is so captivating, you don’t want to put the book down until you know what happens next. I read The Wake Up in a couple of days, so engrossed was I in the storyline and so vested in the characters of Aiden and Milo. While some may find the idea of Aiden’s animal empathy to be a bit far-fetched, I have heard of such things before, just not on such an extreme level. I thought it interesting to discover the origins of this empathy and the interesting things that Aiden had forgotten about his childhood which are brought back to him while examining both himself and his relationship with Milo in therapy.
I loved the way the therapy sessions were approached in this novel. Aiden was not exactly happy going to a therapist, but once he got there, he was willing to let things play out with further sessions. By giving the sessions a chance, he began to unearth memories from his past that he had suppressed, giving him insight into how to handle his forgotten abilities and how to deal with Milo’s issues. Too often, there is a stigma attached to therapy causing many to shy away from its benefits. I thank Catherine Ryan Hyde for writing these therapy sessions in such a way as to convey those benefits to her readers.
Catherine Ryan Hyde does it again with a tale you will definitely find hard to put down. If you are a fan of her writing, The Wake Up is another one of her novels you won’t want to miss. For all those who have never read anything by this author, this is a good place to start.