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Will Rise from Ashes is a journey…both physical (a road trip across the country in the wake of a huge natural disaster) and emotional (a mother’s journey of heartache, healing, and hope). The Yellowstone supervolcano has just erupted. Tens of thousands are dead or missing. The nation and the world will be forever altered. But can humanity survive? Is living more than mere survival? The book embraces this theme of humanity vs. survival while showing one person’s perspective as she deals with grief, anxiety, parenting a special needs child…and her own life journey.
AJ Sinclair’s brother and her youngest son are missing in the disaster. How can she sit at home on the east coast and wait for news that may never come? So, she gets in the car, her autistic son as side-kick. Along the way to Colorado, her anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family’s present, and embraces a future of uncertainty. She encounters her fair share of vagrants and those less couth…people who will exploit you, hurt you, or steal from you. Survival of the fittest? Perhaps.
But what about humanity? Can it still exist in a dangerous time? Will everyone resort to unethical means to survive? Though this is not quite an apocalyptic or dystopian novel, it is a dangerous time and it addresses the question of “will humanity survive?” Side note: Yes, I love The Walking Dead, and the show’s power lies in a similar question. How does a disaster/altered world affect humanity? The backdrop for that TV series/graphic novel series is zombies/a torn world but the true story is in the characters. [And no, there are no flesh-eating zombies in Will Rise from Ashes.]
AJ’s son Will and a new stranger, Reid, open AJ’s eyes to the world around her. Caught up in her own grief for so long, she’d forgotten to find the joy and life in living. There are good people out there among the wolves. Dangerous times and moments can bring out both the best and worse in us. Hopefully I’ve conveyed that well in Will Rise from Ashes. In the words of C.S. Lewis (and quoted from the story):
"There is no other day. All days are present now. This moment contains all moments."
—C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
What you do with that moment is what matters.
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.
Enjoy an Excerpt
Even from far away, I recognized the man’s plaid long-sleeved shirt and the large backpack, but now he was walking alongside a bike on his approach.
“Hey, look! It’s that guy you drove past this morning!”
I shuddered inwardly. Well, karma just bit me in the butt.
“How did he catch up with us?” Motherly instinct took over as I rose, my legs wobbly. “Will, stay there. Here, take this,” I said, handing him the tire iron.
“We already tried that, Mom.”
“Not for that, Will.”
He scratched his brown hair, which was overdue for a cut, and looked at me, confusion wrinkling his brow.
“Be my wizard, Will. It’s your sword.”
“Wizards have wands.”
The circuit connected. “Oh…yes, Mom, I’ll protect you!”
I smiled faintly. “Thank you, honey.” I didn’t want to explain further that it was me protecting him. I didn’t want to say that if something happened, to run and hide in the woods. Because he would run and hide. Then what? Who would come help?
I shoved my hand into my front jeans pocket to nestle my fingertips around the pocket knife I had given Harrison for our wedding anniversary. The man slowed his bicycle as he drew nearer. He gave me an understated, yet significant, nod. The nod of understanding, of kindness. I didn’t buy it.
“Hello, again,” he said.
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