I picked up Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde on Kindle for $2. The story hook struck me as interesting and the cost was low risk. But then I added the audible version for $2 as well so I ended up listening to it on the daily commute.
It turned out to be an entertaining and well done story. I really enjoyed the different voices and perspectives. It ends up feeling like an old fashioned radio drama where the voices add to the depth of the story.
Hyde does a great job of allowing the impact of the family tension play itself out as the story progresses. As the family members tell the story from their perspective you begin to understand how the family dynamic (don’t ask questions, don’t cause trouble, financial pressure, etc.) has shaped relationships and habits.
The story also highlights how decisions and assumptions made under pressure can change relationships and impact one’s future path. Years later you look back and begin to see patterns and choices and how they led you to where you are today.
You come away with an appreciation for the fact that how you react to emotions and circumstances can have lasting impact and shape your character. Aubry’s anger issue are particularly well done, in my opinion.
There is a thread you might call anti-war or anti-war-on-terror at least. The choice Joseph made, and his rationale for it, have clear political undertones. And the action of the media also play a prominent role. Some might find it powerfully correct while others might find it offensive. I found it neither; an interesting perspective but an oversimplification at the same time.
But that is really a small part of the story. The family dynamics and differing perspectives on the same events is what drives the story.
All in all I found it an engaging and thought-provoking story. Whether you want to read it or listen to it, I think it would be worth your time.