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Publisher's Summary

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes the stunning and emotional story of a young soldier's unthinkable act...and the bonds of a sister and brother's love.

Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, are just teenagers when their older brother ships off to Iraq. When Joseph returns, uninjured, only three and a half months later, Ruth is happy he is safe but also deeply worried. How can it be that her courageous big brother has been dishonorably discharged for refusing to go out on duty? Aubrey can't believe that his hero doesn't have very good reasons.

Yet as the horrifying details of the incident emerge, Joseph disappears. In their attempts to find him, Ruth and Aubrey discover he has a past far darker than either of them could imagine. But even as they learn more about their brother, important questions remain unanswered - why did he betray his unit, his country, and now his family? Joseph's refusal to speak ignites a fire in young Aubrey that results in a disastrous, and public, act of rebellion.

The impact of Joseph's fateful decision one night in Baghdad will echo for years to come, with his siblings caught between their love for him and the media's engulfing frenzy of judgment. Will their family ever make their way back to each other and find a way to forgive?

©2015 Catherine Ryan Hyde (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

ask him why?

I loved the story and the reading and performance of it. a story of a broken family and growing up believing one thing and finding out things are not what they seemed to be. it is about helping someone , helping yourself and growing up. learning you can love imperfect people because we are all imperfect . also that there are angels among us. loved this book would make a wonder movie . I am a fan for life.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing book for the doubtful

This is a beautiful look into the lives of the hurting. Of being saved when you didn't think anyone cared to save you. I very much so enjoyed every moment and it ended in the most important way. Well done Catherine Ryan Hyde. And thank you.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • TamCal
  • Sarasota, FL
  • 03-31-16

Fabulous!

Great story. Loved the characters. Had the audio version and got so much housework done as I couldn't stop listening! My favorite character was Ruth. I loved the articulation of her observations.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 02-05-18

Ask Me Why I Couldn't Take Any More of This Book

I am quitting 2 hours shy of the ending. Want to ask me why? Well, I can't avoid SPOILERS, sorry. There is a good chance you will like this audiobook with so many great reviews. So you may not want to read further here.

Ryan Hyde is an iffy author for me. A few of her books I have really loved, yet others were too simple, predictable, or irritating. Like this one.

Right off the bat, I found I could not stand the narrator's portrayal of Ruth. I found it totally unconvincing and just plain irritating. As the character aged 10 years, it got a tiny bit better, but Amy McFadden made the character very unlikable for me. Likewise for Aubrey's narrator, who added to this brother's already present unlikability.

As for the story, I found it predictable, unbelievable, annoying, and often tedious. Examples? Ruth, at age 15, not having one girlfriend in the world. Really? Same for her brother, Aubrey. 'Aubrey', really? Yup, he had no friends either.

The parents were totally unbelievable. Going along with the literary and TV trend that all parents are idiots, the mother was incredibly exaggerated, vain, unsympathetic, self-centered, and disinterested in any aspect of her children's well-being. The father was portrayed as checked-out and not developed at all, but he was as insensitive as the mother.

Are we to believe that young Joe was allowed to spend summers with a strange man the parents never knew or cared to know (despite Joe's contemplating suicide) AND the other children never bothered to ask where their older brother was going each summer?

As I got two hours from the ending, the book got intolerably more outrageous and just too predictable. I am assuming idiot mother will get the siblings back together and it will be a total tearfest. I, for one, am not sticking around to find out.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Truely enjoyed, one of the best books and performa

loved it one of the best ever. great performance, made the characters come alive could recommend to anyone

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding story of war, family, & forgiveness.

There are plenty of detailed reviews that describe the storyline, but I would like to emphasize the many ways in which human nature is portrayed. This book IMO, was on par with "The Kite Runner" & similar books that explore the complexities of human emotions.

Narration was flawless, voiced by three seasoned professionals.

Again, outstanding!

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Offensively unrealistic

I purchased this book based on the great reviews it received, particularly one in which it was compared to "The Kite Runner". I found the beginning of the book to be a little more distressing than enjoyable, but I listened on in hopes that the big reveal of Joseph's secret would put everything into perspective. It didn't. The secret was actually offensive to me, as the wife of a soldier. The story portrayed the secret as a unique and shocking way that Joseph alone viewed the situation. Other soldiers didn't even consider it until Joseph gave them the idea. Does the author believe that most soldiers have no problem with the realities of their mission? It seemed like the author was trying to help people understand the struggles of combat, but I really feel like she missed the mark. The rest of the book was okay. The end was a little more uplifting and hopeful, although there were tragedies like a serious medical diagnosis that didn't get a realist response from the characters.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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well read

The story is emotional, thought provoking. The readers were excellent. I can't say I enjoyed it, because it was about a family in pain, but it was well written and a satisfying story .

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-27-17

Ask Me Why...

"Ask Him Why" is just what you'd expect from Catherine Ryan Hyde, only her characters here are more complex and have more in their lives and backgrounds than usual.
Ruth and Aubrey live with not Mom and Dad, but Janet and Brad. It's a world of rules and a distinct lack of warmth, where being rigid is the only way to be, no matter what you feel inside. Don't like the coldness at the dinner table? Stare at the chandelier until you see white spots rather than say anything. When big brother Joseph does the unthinkable, all that is left is emptiness, denial, and a lack of acceptance. And if big brother Joseph can't respond back to you: Cut him out of your life, say the worst things imaginable, maybe even to the press.
This is not literary fiction. There is no complexity of language, no figurative phrasing, the setting is just a setting. But the characters, especially Aubrey, are really well-written, really warm and involved in their own lives, their own devastating mistakes that they must live with.
Amy McFadden gives a solid performance as Ruth at all ages, and Nick Podehl! Well, what can you say about Nick Podehl except that he rocks!
"Ask Him Why" sometimes has a YA feel, but it's for anyone who lives with devastating choices.
And it doesn't hurt when you have the world's best therapist and gorgeous fish to stare at to take your mind off what you've done and what you've become...

37 of 45 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • BDHumbert
  • Fort Pierce, FL, United States
  • 04-28-17

I found this

Depressing and unbelievable at the same time. Not sure there is a likable character in the book

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Heffalump321
  • 08-04-17

less enjoyable than some of her others

I found the terrible Scottish accent very hard to get past. It was sometimes sounding Polish and sometimes Indian! It was less uplifting than other stories I have listened to by the same author.