Book Review: Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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 Thoughts:

I found this book on Amazon as a recommendation based on my previous search history. To be very frank, the synopsis caught my attention and I must admit, upon completing the book, I was simply blown away. This is an amazingly written book highlighting the bonds between siblings, the horrors faced in a war and the kind of scars left behind.

First off I will start with the style of writing. IT IS AMAZING. This is a moving, emotional roller coaster of a story. Joseph, the eldest of three is shipped off to Iraq and returns only months later. Ruth and her little brother Aubrey, still early teenagers at this stage struggle to understand the situation. Brought up in a family where one cannot ask questions, and nothing is discussed, they learn to keep shut. They do not know the importance of communication and sharing what is on their mind. This is something the children come to learn in time.

The parents are dealing with the repercussion of Joseph’s return, the press is sensationalizing the story, and the world has already decided his fate. He is due for a dishonorable discharge, but this turns into something far worse due to the deaths of two of his former squad mates. His choices set in motion a series of events that tugs apart at the very thin thread that binds his family together.

As the story progresses, Joseph turns himself in and goes to prison. His siblings are left wondering what happened and questioning his courage. His younger brother Aubrey, feels betrayed that his brother does not even want to see him and speaks out against him in public. The lack of communication allows a monster of hate to grow inside him which he carries for the next 9 -10 years. Ruth and Aubrey reach out to their aunt for help in trying to understand what’s happening. In all this, we meet Hamish, a wonderful person, who helps put things in perspective.

The story follows the siblings as they learn to deal with their feelings, confront each other, talk and thus find each other. The story teaches us to ask questions, to seek for the answers before making a judgement call, to think before one acts. This is a wonderfully written book and will tug at your heart strings in more ways than you can imagine. It teaches the reader so many lessons that I highly recommend this book to everyone. Thank you Catherine for writing this wonderful story.

 

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