Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Ask Him Why" by Catherine Ryan Hyde


"I was fifteen when our brother Joseph was shipped overseas to fight, and I was fifteen when he came home, uninjured, three and a half months later. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. The army doesn't tend to have deployments that last only three and a half months. That was the heart of our problem right there..."

From the bestselling author of "Pay it Forward" comes a tale of family dysfunction and the love between siblings that bond  them together, even when there are things tearing them apart. Ruth and her brother Aubrey are barely teenagers when their older brother Joseph is deployed to Iraq. Joseph returns though in just a few months, dishonorably discharged, with a story that the press is jumping on and the family can't comprehend.

Ruth and Aubrey are struggling to understand secrets that are being uncovered and things that are left unsaid. Then and ten years down the road. They tell the story of what it's like to be a part of a family that is torn apart by their brothers actions. A family that was already on the edge of the abyss to begin with. Such a total lack in communication between family members make it so they kids have to find out on their own exactly what happened to their family before and after Joseph's discharge.

The story goes back and forth between the time of the incident when Joseph came home that day to ten years later as they look back over what happened. The press was merciless, as the press would be. Soldiers died and people blamed Joseph. How did the family of a soldier cope when the world has already judged his guilt?

An emotional drama. Ruth and Aubrey take refuge with their aunt and go in search of answers. Joseph and his parents are leaving these kids to dangle with no explanation. Something I think adults tend to do in a crisis. They think they're protecting the children by not talking about something, but it is still shaking their world as much as the adults.

Sometimes we do a very wrong thing for the very right reasons.  Can these siblings find the way back to each other? There is a beacon in the darkness in the form of an elderly stranger named Hammish. One whose knowledge of human nature can help bridge the gaps. We should all be so lucky to know such a person.

The key to unraveling everything is if someone, anyone will just "Ask Him Why" he did what he did. There were times I was reading that I yelled at the book that very thing! Do they ever ask him? You'll have to read the book to find out. Anger definitely holds a person back from many things. Anger at Joseph is like Aubrey's blood, and runs through him deep and strong.

I do like the way this book flowed and the way it ended. It was wrapped in a way that was both touching and realistic. A thought provoking journey through the pages. Being a soldier you do as you are told. What if you make a decision that is against orders? It happens. People can die. This is the story of a family who suffers the consequences of that one decision. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the A.R. C.