This is the second book I’ve read recently about people who empathize with animals on a telepathic level. And it wasn’t at all planned that way – it just happened.
So The Wake Up follows forty-year-old ranger Aiden Delacorte, who runs the ranch he from his deceased stepfather. Aiden’s life takes a complete 180 degree turn when one day while out hunting. He shoots a buck, and almost instantaneously, he falls to the ground, in agonizing pain and ends up blacking out. It turns out that when the bullet hit the buck, Aiden was able to feel the animal’s pain.
From that event forward, he figures out that he has some sort of “empathy” for animals and feels what they are feeling: their fear, their anxiety, their joy, their anger as well as their physical pain. Now, this is not a good thing for a cattle rancher who’s job it is to round up cattle, castrate the heifers and subsequently slaughter them. Because of this, he has no choice but to give up his career and sell off his animals. And he loses not only his farm in the process but also his girlfriend as well as the respect and friendship of his ranch-hands.
But Aiden’s life changes once again when he meets Gwen, a single mother with two children: Elizabeth and Milo.
Milo is an extremely troubled child — sensitive, shut off from everyone and can’t even bear the touch of others. We learn that Milo was abused in many ways by his father and Gwen really has her hands full with the boy. Gwen and Aiden begin dating, and even though the boy acts out in disturbing and almost unforgivable ways, Aiden vows to help the boy. As their relationship painfully progresses forward, Aiden learns that this boy may not be so different than himself.
What’s interesting about this story is that as Aiden revisits his past and his demons with a psychiatrist, he discovers hidden truths of his own life and his own childhood, which also provide answers to his own problems with Milo.
I listened to the audiobook version of this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciate how the author brought up some very tough and important issues during the story: emotional abuse, physical abuse, but also the importance of family, self-acceptance, self-worth, encouragement, and hope. All in all, a beautiful, heartfelt story about emotional discoveries that I really ended up loving. I gave this book 5 stars.