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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

When an old feeling reawakens in Aiden he can no longer do his job the way he used to. He was a successful cattle farmer, but experiencing the pain of animals makes it impossible for him to continue. The wake up also has another effect. Aiden used to suppress his feelings, not letting anyone in and blocking every possible emotion. This helped him to get by for many years, but now he has to find a different way to cope. His change costs him his relationship and makes him find new love. His girlfriend Gwen is a single mother with two children. Her daughter Elizabeth is easy to get along with, but her son Milo is struggling with traumas of the past.

Milo is acting out. He's hurting inside and inflicts pain on others as a result. His abusive father tried to destroy Milo. Gwen eventually left him, but not before he was able to cause maximal damage. Aiden can feel Milo's turbulent emotions, but when Milo tries to hurt animals he's also being crippled by their pain. Will Aiden be able to control his instinctive reactions and find it in his heart to forgive Milo for his actions because of the reason behind them? Is there a possibility that Milo will improve if Aiden gives him a chance?

The Wake Up is a fantastic original story. Aiden has two different emotional states, he either feels too much or he doesn't feel anything at all. They are both difficult to deal with, but by learning to handle his empathic side he has a lot more to gain. It's the hard way, but also the most rewarding one, which is something I really loved about his story. What also greatly impressed me was Aiden's relationship with Milo. Milo is difficult and often lands himself in dangerous situations because he takes too many risks. Aiden is initially angry with him, but he also looks deep inside himself and finds similarities between the two of them. By focusing on this he might be able to help. The development of their relationship kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved how Catherine Ryan Hyde describes this impressive process. She does this with so much understanding, sympathy and heart that no words can express how amazing the effect is.

Catherine Ryan Hyde has a beautiful open writing style. Her stories always contain a form of wisdom that's easy to understand and that greatly impresses me. I love her outlook on life and the messages she gives her readers through her stories. The Wake Up is a very special book. I loved that Aiden slowly becomes part of a family, how his past and present have many similarities and the way he slowly gets to know himself through working hard on his issues. There are so many gorgeous emotional layers and Catherine Ryan Hyde thoroughly explores all of them. She combines this with a stunning hint of magic and the result is a thought-provoking story filled with love, flaws and beauty. The Wake Up moved me to tears many times. I highly recommend this brilliant spellbinding book.


If you love beautiful emotional stories about family and second chances you should definitely read The Wake Up.

About Catherine Ryan Hyde


I'm an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, and have released my first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

I am co-author, with fellow author and publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

My novel PAY IT FORWARD was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD was released in December of '14.


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1) Can you tell our readers three interesting facts about yourself?

Number one, I own a Belgian warmblood dressage horse and I’m learning to ride dressage. It’s a classical English riding discipline that demands quite a lot of training from both rider and horse. I’m not yet into anything like the higher levels of it, but I’m working hard and learning. 

Number two, I have a rather broad and silly sense of humor, which I’m not sure people would guess by reading my work. I like to watch the old Looney Tunes cartoons, I Love Lucy, the British sitcom Fawlty Towers with John Cleese. I actually watch a fair amount of streaming video rather than reading at the end of the day, because there’s already so much eyestrain involved in my work. I do most of my “reading” by audiobook.

Number three, I once spent a few weeks at an ashram in Rishikesh, India—right on the banks of the Ganges River—at the invitation of a swami who was a big fan of my novel “Pay It Forward.” It was over a decade ago now, and the swami is since deceased, but I just look back and think it was an interesting life experience, worth mentioning.

2) How did your passion for stories start?

I was always a daydreamer. I remember, when I was in school, having a teacher tell me I’d never make anything of myself if I had my head in the clouds all day. (But he was wrong!)

I think the difference between making up a story in your head and writing a novel or story is whether you want that thought kept private, or whether you feel an urge to share it with others. I guess I was driven by a desire to communicate. I think I still am.

3) In The Wake Up, Aiden has a special gift. Could you tell a bit more about this and the inspiration behind it?

Well, it’s a gift or it’s a curse. I’m sure a deeply empathic person feels different ways about the sensitivity at different times. But yes, after burying it for years, he is suddenly able to feel the pain and fear of those around him, particularly animals. Being a cattle rancher by trade, this presents problems. I don’t know what inspired me to include that—I never do. But I think I am—to some degree—an empath myself, just not as acutely felt as Aiden. And I think that’s true for a lot of us, to one degree or another, which I think is why a lot of people are finding they resonate with Aiden’s story.

4) Animals are an important part of the story, how did you get this idea and what role do they play in your own life?

I honestly don’t know how I get any of my ideas. I ask for them, I open my imagination, and things show up. But you can certainly see bits of me and my interests in what I come up with. I am a horse, dog, and cat owner, so it’s easy for me to write animal characters who have their own unique personalities. They’re not just props to me, like the generic golden retriever in a novel who pretty much exists to hold up the other end of a fictional leash. In my own life, those three animals make up my family. So it stands to reason, I guess, that various animal characters will show up in most of the books.

5) Sometimes it takes a brave chance to make someone heal, how did you prepare for the emotional part of this very special part of your story?

I don’t know that I ever do prepare. I jump into emotional situations, both in my own life and in fiction. I just try to deal with things as they arrive. Because, when you think about it, how does one really prepare for any sort of emotional situation? Whatever we think we’re doing to get ready, the emotion is much the same when it arrives.

I did worry that readers might not be willing to go along with me re: Aiden’s brave chance. But if the character could take risks, so could I. So I went there, and have heard no complaints from readers so far. Turns out they were rooting for Milo’s healing, too.

6) You take beautiful photos, how did you discover this passion and your talent for it?

My first trip down into the Grand Canyon on foot was in 2013. I day-hiked to the river and back. I couldn’t imagine going all that way in such a beautiful location without photos, so I brought two disposable cameras. I thought it might be too rough-and-tumble a trip for a more expensive digital. Then I just kept the tradition going—bringing back photos of my trips (except I risked taking a good camera). I don’t know that I have any special talent for it. Almost everything I do is on a point-and-shoot setting. I think I just go some incredible places, which allows me to point my camera at amazingly beautiful sights.

7) You love to travel, what’s the most impressive place you’ve ever visited and why?

I think it would be nearly impossible to weed out one. So I’ll list a few. The Hotel Everest View in Nepal. Machu Picchu. The Greek Island of Santorini. Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Finnish Lapland, where I saw the Aurora Borealis. The Grand Canyon, Zion, and Yellowstone National Parks. And all for the same reason: because they took my breath away. They left me stunned at the beauty of the world. Not a bad state of mind.

8) You love spending time outdoors and this is also part of your stories, what does being outside and embracing nature mean to you?

To me it’s a kind of spirituality. It brings peace, it brings me home to myself. It reminds me that something much greater than myself has created/is creating the world. It reminds me that the natural world is balanced. If something pushes it out of balance, it rebalances itself. And I try to bring this feeling into my work as much as possible, because I think most of us know the feeling. But it’s easy to sit inside on our computers and forget. I try to remind people, myself included, how it feels out there in the big world.

9) You love hiking, what’s the most memorable hike you’ve ever been on?

I think it’s a tie. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru was the most memorable for several years. I did it in three days, two nights instead of the usual four or five days. But in 2016 I trekked from “the world’s most dangerous airport” (Lukla, Nepal) up to the Hotel Everest View at 13,000 feet above sea level. Now I think those two are side-by-side in my estimation, and I can’t imagine having to choose a favorite.

10) You’ve written over 30 stories, how does it feel to see them in print and are there still things you dream of when it comes to your writing? 

I’ve written over 30 novels, and more than 50 short stories—just to differentiate between short fiction and book-length fiction. I haven’t written a short story for a long time. Everything I set out to write becomes a novel.

That’s a tricky one—how it feels to see them in print. Because after a few decades, one tends to get used to things, no matter how amazing they are. People ask me how I feel about seeing the phrase “Pay It Forward” so deeply embedded in the language of our culture, and I try to explain that you really can’t walk around all day, every day, being astounded. But sometimes it breaks through and knocks me over. Sometimes I’ll be reading my author bio (usually because I’m updating it) and I’ll be stunned that the body of work has gotten so large. As far as what I dream of, I try to make every book the book I dream of writing, though of course that dream evolves over time. So I think my goal for my writing is just to keep going—and growing. 

11) What are your plans for the future?

Well… pretty much… this. I do have a few more travel plans. Next summer I plan to visit Iceland and see and photograph the Atlantic puffins, in addition to other beautiful sights Iceland has to offer. On the same trip I plan to fly down to Vienna on the way back and visit the Spanish Riding School. But other than that, I just really love my life and don’t plan too many big changes. I’m writing two books a year, traveling, learning to ride dressage with my horse, and I plan to do all those things as long as I am able.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. The Wake Up sounds like a thought provoking, beautifully observed and well crafted story dealing with people and situations you grow to care about.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful book. Can't wait to read. Thanks for sharing

  3. this sounds like a very interesting read xx

  4. Sounds like a great and very interesting and emotional novel, I might well shed a few tears whilst reading it.

  5. Curious to see how this one pans out.

  6. It sounds like a very emotional story and a great book.

  7. wonderful choice of cover

  8. This would be a great book to read as my second CRH!

  9. I would love to visit Iceland, too.

  10. This sounds like a very deep and emotional novel.

  11. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  12. Pay It Forward was such an emotional & inspiring story.