First Chapter Review: From Ashes to Honor by Loree Lough
September 11th remains a difficult date in our history. Like probably many of you, I remember where I was that day; still recall the horrible images on the news, and have struggled to make sense of such a tremendous loss of life.
For these reasons, I've mostly steered clear of books set around September 11th or in which that tragic event plays a part. I felt drawn, however, to this book. As I read last night, it struck me how the author writes with a sense of compassion. I was glad to have picked up this one.
BLURB: If he had only answered that last phone call from the World Trade Center . . .
Minutes before two jumbo jets changed U.S. history, New York police officer Austin Finley ignored the call from his brother, who’d been bugging him for days. Trying to live with his one regret causes hatred and bitterness to consume Austin, and when counselor Mercy Samara recommends desk duty, Austin resigns. Haunted by her own memories of 9/11, Mercy takes a job as a school counselor in Baltimore. When Austin, now an EMT, responds to an emergency at Mercy’s school, both are stunned and wary.
Finally their common—and painful—memories turn suspicion into friendship, then romance.
But hard questions linger: Can they truly move beyond their past harsh judgments and harsh words? Will their past finally bring them closer or—as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws near—drive them farther apart?
COVER: Beautiful. The cover is exactly what one would expect for a book in which September 11th plays a big part. The use of the soft blur over the scene of NYC draws out the block letters of the title and displays a sense of calm despite the plot. The American flag reminds the reader how for a few days we weren't African-American or Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian, Catholic or Jew, Democrat or Republican--we were all proudly American.
FIRST CHAPTER: It is January 2003. We find Austin Finely sitting in the office of Dr. Mercy Samara. A decorated police officer who responded to the call on September 11th, he has been placed on desk duty and ordered to see the doctor after a series of violent altercations with perps. He knows Dr. Samara is the key to him returning to his regular job.
Finely is very angry, but he's not about to tell the doctor about the images he can't erase from his mind or his regret over not answering a phone call from his twin brother from the World Trade Center that morning.
KEEP READING: A resounding yes! As I mentioned in the beginning, Lough writes with a sense of compassion as she relays Finley's story. You're pulled in, despite how badly he is treating the doctor who is trying to help him. You can understand and sympathize with the pain and suffering he has had to endure for the past sixteen months. He makes it obvious he's not a fan of therapy, and through his internal thoughts we experience his disdain for this Muslim doctor. But you can't seem to dislike him, because of the way Lough has drawn him.
The powerful scene between Finley and Dr. Samara after he accidentally reveals something he wishes would remain hidden, clinched it for me. I want to keep reading. I want to see him open up to her and find a way to heal himself. And in this touching scene, we get a glimpse of the romance that might be.