Will Rise from Ashes
Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one. Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.
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As an avid reader and parent of a child with special needs, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down. It's a fabulous fictional story, and it centers on a mother of a child with special needs and her journey, both physically and emotionally. It beautifully captures all the emotions, hopes, fears, and love that a parent has for a child with special needs. The author does an amazing job not only telling a wonderful and creative story but also accurately describing the challenges and rewards of families with a loved one on the autism spectrum. Highly recommend this book!
This was my first-time reading Ms. Grant, and I was delighted with her measured revelation of her characters’ journey through a catastrophic event in what could be our dystopian future.
This is the story of a recently widowed, thirty-something, mom of two boys who is on a quest to locate her younger son––missing with her brother––due to a volcanic eruption in Yellowstone. With man against nature, ash clouds do not mix well with telecommunication systems, aircraft engines or the water supply. She does not hold back on the abundance of obstacles that confront her characters, including forgotten meds, bad actors encountered on the road, and the desperate behaviour from people struggling to survive when facing immeasurable odds. If anything, I wondered what else this character was going to be faced with, but the variety of challenges do keep the pace moving nicely in the second half. I didn’t feel a slump or that there was a “missing middle,” as she kept me intrigued through to the end.
What allows this to rise above the “gee ain’t it awful” syndrome we can slide into talking about natural disasters or current events is the sensitivity and innocence she demonstrates via, Will, a child with autism. There was no sense that this was a convenient ploy or staged for convenience––there didn’t appear to be anything unauthentic about this character.
Setting is an important element in this story, and although I am not a resident of the United States, this was not an issue as she leverages the specifics of the geography to tell a bigger, more symbolic story; however, this isn’t a case that this could take place anywhere, as the event that propels the narrative is location specific, and she poses larger, more thought-provoking questions that any member of our fragile planet can relate to.
Structurally, the reader learns early on what is at stake for her main character and the reader quickly aligns to what is at stake for human kind creating a sense of urgency.
Written with accessible language, she has an easy-to-read voice that is not too distant or intimate, and although she poses some “what ifs” about what plagues us, she doesn’t lecture or let her own voice overtake the narrative.
She tells the story through alternating points-of-view that caused me to do some re-reading for clarity. Although, the narrative voices are appropriate for an adult and a child, she uses first-person for the chapters belonging to her adult main character, AJ, and third-person when the perspective belongs to AJ’s nine-year-old son, Will. The language was clear, and however perplexed I was with this approach, it didn’t detract from the book’s readability.
The double entendre of the title is appealing lending itself to more than one interpretation, and in Will Rise from Ashes, Jean Grant delivers in a literal and figurative sense.