Reviewer Candace Lybarger: Candace is a young wife, mother, and lover of all books. She received her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University. Candace taught 3rd grade until an opportunity presented itself where she could work from home and be with her toddler. In addition to spending time with her family, Candace enjoys reading, music, history, traveling, and spending time outdoors. Her perfect day in a nutshell would be sitting in the sun with a book...or two!
Author: Jonathan Hull
Publisher: Dancing Muse Press
Jonathan Hull's, The Devoted is a literary masterpiece that deserves to be discovered by the general public. Focusing on a pieced together family that has more than its share of secrets, The Devoted pulls you in until you are fully submerged into the novel. I cannot give this charming piece of fiction enough praise, it really has it all: romance, heartache, mystery, suspense, and many historical elements. Once I picked up The Devoted I was not able to put it down until I finished it.
The novel hinges around the characters of Ryan, Mike, Alessandra, and Shannon as it spans many decades. As a young boy, Ryan was traveling with his loving, and in his perspective, perfect parents. After falling asleep in the back seat of the car, Ryan was awakened to flames engulfing his car and two huge hands reaching in to pull him out. His life was never the same. Mike was the quick acting man who saw the accident occur; he ran to the scene to try and save the young boy and his family. Sadly, he was only able to pull Ryan out of the car while his parents perished. Mike's life was also changed forever.
Ryan and Mike were admitted to the same hospital to recover. Both Ryan and Mike had many complication to overcome: Ryan with his broken body and Mike with his severely burnt hands. Alessandra and Shannon, Mike's wife and daughter, visited everyday and Shannon would watch over Ryan as he was unconscious. Years go by and Ryan stays in touch with Mike's family through Christmas cards, birthday cards, and graduation announcements. As he reaches adulthood, Ryan finds himself living an unhappy and unfulfilled life that is overrun by memories of the past. Many times Ryan thinks about visiting Mike and thanking him for saving his life in person, but he always becomes to afraid. However, when he discovers Mike is on his deathbed, Ryan decides to return and see him once more for the closure that he never had. However, instead of closure Mike reveals a huge secret that will turn Ryan, Alessandra, and Shannon's lives upside down.
I loved the historical aspects of The Devoted. Throughout the book, Hull places love letters that Ryan's parents wrote to each other while his father was away at war. These letters show the true love that this couple felt for each other. A fear of Ryan's is that he will never find this kind of passionate, all consuming love. While Ryan's story is one main plot line in The Devoted, Alessandra's childhood in wartime Italy is the other main focus of Hull's novel. Alessandra begins telling Ryan about her childhood in Italy while they are out touring her and Mike's farm. However, she leaves many important details out which Ryan later discovers when Alessandra gives him a letter type book she writes containing her memories. Here readers learn how Alessandra met American solider Mike and what really happened in Italy during the war. One would think that Ryan has nothing to do with any of this, but Hull powerfully weaves a story together that demonstrates that Alessandra's life during the war directly impacts the horrible accident which claimed the lives of Ryan's parents. I have to say that Alessandra's part of The Devoted was my favorite.
I wholeheartedly recommend Jonathan Hull's, The Devoted, to all fiction lovers. This is a wonderful story that spans decades and takes readers on a fascinating journey. I was very shocked at the ending of The Devoted; Hull definitely threw a twist into his story. Many novels wrap up with a 'happily ever after' ending that you can see coming a mile away. However, The Devoted ends in a way that leaves readers contemplating everything that happened from the beginning of the story until the end. I feel that any novel that leaves you thinking about it a day or two after you finished reading it has done something right. Congratulations to Hull for writing a terrific novel that left me very satisfied!
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