Book Review: Ashes

Goodreads Synopsis: Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement.

 But life and death has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other’s company. It’s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he’s left with his lawyer.

The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

Author: Steven Manchester

Title: Ashes

Publisher: The Story Plant

Date: 2017

I’ve always been dubious about road trip books, mainly because I hadn’t read one I truly enjoyed. Ashes by Steven Manchester proved to be the exception.

Two estranged brothers must travel across America to spread their hated father’s ashes before they will learn if he left them anything. But Jason and Tom haven’t spoken for fifteen years – and neither has the desire to rekindle their relationship. Stuck in a car with each other, however, has an interesting effect and the two brothers start to reconnect.

To start with, I didn’t like Jason or Tom – one was too aggressive, the other too weak. But as their journey progressed and emotions began to be displayed (other than calling each other names), they grew on me. Behind the aggression, Jason is genuine in wanting to help people. Tom is slightly naïve, but has his heart in the right place and he cares about his brother. By the end, I wanted to give them both a hug!

Ashes touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Maybe I was in just the right mood to be receptive to it? Living for yourself and being happy is the most important thing in life – and the thing that often is overlooked. Ashes displays a powerful message about looking after yourself and striving for contentment.

It also focused on abuse and how fear, anger and hate can dictate our lives. It’s made clear that it didn’t have to be that way for everyone, that there is an escape and a chance to be happy.

The fact that Ashes got to me on an emotional level shows that Manchester is a strong writer. His characters were well-established and certainly three-dimensional – the two brothers discovered they had a lot of emotions to deal with.

There were a few too many meals being described but in general, the focus remained on the plot rather than the road-trip.

A short but enjoyable read that makes you think about your life choices. I would recommend it.


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