Take my advice, you don’t need to read this review, you just need to read the book! Just go to Amazon and buy it!
Oh, you are still reading, I guess I will have to explain why this is the book of the year in my mind.
Jason Wright is no newcomer to the literary world and his two prior books, Christmas Jars and The Wednesday Letters both achieved critical acclaim and also a New York Times bestseller. With these credentials you would expect Recovering Charles to be well laid out plot wise and elequent in the use of language. It most certainly is!
Some might argue that Recovering Charles is a little slow getting out of the starting blocks, however in retrospect the first part of the book is fundamental to understanding the entire story, Jason Wright took the correct approach.
The plot itself is deceptively simple, Luke is a young successful freelance photographer on New York, he has it all, career, some money, pretty girlfriend, he is in someways the epitome of todays American Dream. There are skeletons in his closet, a mother who died from addiction to prescription drugs, and an estranged father who fell victim to the demon bottle following his wifes death.
Luke has not spoken to his father Charles in over two years, in fact he doesn’t even know where he is. Two days after Hurricane Katrina hits Luke receives a phone call from a stranger claiming to be Charles’ friend, and informs him that his father had been living in New Orleans and is missing.
Luke must decide if he is willing to let his father back into his life. Should he go to New Orleans and help the search, or try to ignore the plea for help? He makes the decision to go.
I feel a very personal attachment to this book. My wife is from Slidell which was devastated by Katrina. She did not sleep for days, frantic trying to get information about her family, all of which were in the New Orleans area. The phones were not working, the images on the TV were horrific, this was not America, it could not be happening here. These disasters happen in other countries, not at home. We spent countless hours in the internet, bits that infrastructure were still working. We scoured NOAA reconnaissance photography, satellite pictures, we searched the lists of evacuees, we left messages on bulletin boards, and we kept dialing phone numbers.
Jason Wright has encapsulated all of the emotions that we felt during that time. His descriptive writing is unparalleled, he picks up on small things, a child’s broken toy, a picture frame showing a happy mother and her newborn baby. These are powerful images.
Luke’s journey is one that occurs on two levels, on the outside it is one of search and rescue, on the inside it is one of self discovery and reconciliation with his past.
There is also a very unique twist at the end of the book, actually two twists, these are unexpected and a masterful use of the plot.
Recovering Charles is an evocative and emotional read, and even though a work of fiction, I can guarantee that you will have a lump in your throat when you finish reading it. This book deserves to be on the New York Times best seller list, it certainly is one that I will remember for a very long time. As a reviewer I rarely have the luxury of time to read a book twice, I will make time for Recovering Charles.
You can pick up your copy of Recovering Charles at better book stores everywhere, on online from Amazon.