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March 11, 2021

Will Rise from Ashes by Jean M. Grant ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber

This week's audiobook listen was Will Rise from Ashes by Jean M. Grant, read by Caroline Hewitt and Andrew Perkins. While considered women's fiction, and with A.J.'s journey it definitely is, I was also listening to it as a possibility of my post-apocalyptic book club.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

Will Rise from Ashes
March 2020; Indie; 978-1509225118
audio (10h32m), ebook, print (396 pages)
women's fiction
You might be wondering why I would think a women's fiction story would be appropriate for a post-apocalyptic book club. One, we have a broad definition of "post-apocalyptic". And two, the catalyst for the plot is the eruption of the volcano in Yellowstone National Park. It didn't wipe out the world (or country) but it is a devastating natural disaster for much of the western U.S.

Following a trip to Yellowstone National Park with A.J.'s brother and two young sons, the group is separated when they have to take separate flights home. A.J. and her 9-year-old autistic son are home in Maine when the volcano erupts. However, her brother and youngest son are possibly in Denver. Having already suffered a great loss when her husband died a year ago, A.J. decides she has to get to her son. The story follows her journey across the country.

The physical journey mirrors A.J's personal, emotional journey as she is still grieving her husband's death and hasn't fully processed Will's autistic diagnosis. Interestingly, the story isn't only told from A.J's point of view. There are several chapters from Will's point of view (it is not first-person POV but third-person limited). This is a departure from the typical women's fiction story. You might also be thinking that the 9-year-olds POV would be odd for an adult novel. However, I felt that it worked well for character development. As an autistic child, Will is more observant and perceptive than a neuro-typical child of that age. His insights on his mother's behaviors provide the reader a more complete picture of A.J. His interest in volcanoes and weather also provides plot information.

I enjoyed the characters. In many ways, I identified with A.J., which seems kind of odd since I've never been married and do not have children. But I understood her worry and anxiety (though her anxiety requires medication), but wanting, needing, to be strong. I've had that realization of not being the person that you once were and not knowing for sure how that happened or how to get back to that person.

The only thing I didn't really like about the book was the sex scene about two-thirds of the way through the novel. I don't like reading about sex and it is even worse when listening to an audiobook. I didn't think it added anything to the story and only slightly added to A.J.'s character development though I think that could have been accomplished with less description.

The narrators did a good job, though Andrew Perkins doesn't sound like a 9-year-old child. He sounds more like a teenager, though that may be more of a result of the writing than the voice. It did give me a little trouble remembering how old Will was supposed to be (I kept thinking he was 11 years old). I think it was a good idea to have two narrators as neither provides much differentiation to characters within their respective chapters. They do provide subtle differences in the characters' voices so it wasn't difficult to know who was talking.

As a story of women's fiction, Will Rise from Ashes is an enjoyable read. As an audiobook, it is one that is easy to follow even when my attention wasn't fully focused on the book - I could browse and post on social media and format blog posts easily while listening. Is it a book for my post-apocalyptic book club? Maybe. As there are several points worth discussing, I will likely include it in my suggestions at our planning meeting this summer.

Buy Will Rise from Ashes at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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