Walking a Strange Road with Cherise Wolas
Having children is something that goes without saying for many people, a goal they aspire to since a young age, dreaming of creating their own family and pass on their legacy. However, in the modern world things have started to take a slightly different turn as it seems more and more people are adamant not to have children, preferring instead to spend their efforts on themselves rather than their progeniture, which is quite understandable considering we don’t have the same practical need for children as we did hundreds of years ago. While the topic remains a personal one for every individual who feels they must make the consideration, it is one that nevertheless deserves to be explored for its intriguing state in today’s world, something that Cherise Wolas does quite well in her debut novel, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby.
The story opens and we are presented with the titular woman, a careerist who married the perfect man for her, one that shared her desire not to have children and to put work above all else. She has managed to become a brilliant literary sensation basically known across the world, giving speeches to giant crowds that absorb every one of her words. One day, however, she finds herself pregnant, and much to her surprise, Martin, her husband, is simply ecstatic with the situation. Feeling betrayed by the love of her life, Joan makes the selfless act of keeping the child and decides that she will indeed go forth to embrace the family that she never wanted. After many years of being challenged in raising her two sons, she is about to reclaim the spotlight after having finally finished her great masterpiece… at which point a cataclysm sends her reeling and questioning the decisions she has made over the course of her life.
A Life of Sacrifice
As you might imagine, Joan Ashby herself is the main vehicle that carries us throughout the story from one event to the next, and Cherise Wolas did an amazing job at making her believable, relatable and realistic in every sense of the word. Every single thought she has and emotion she goes through all feel very logical and understandable; even if you disagree with her worldview and opinion on parenthood, you will still comprehend what she’s going through and more likely than not feel something for her predicament. We are made to feel the painstaking sacrifices that Joan is forced to make, putting her beloved career in the back seat in favour of living the life she never wanted for herself, almost betrayed by the whole world around her.
I’d say we get better-acquainted with Joan than many other characters in other novels, much of the focus being placed on defining her internal world, something that I believe her writings tremendously help with. Peppered throughout the book, they often fit in quite well with the events taking place around our main character and reveal a great deal about her, at least for those who are willing to read again and again to draw their own conclusions. It is quite rare that an author can create such a deep sense of intimacy between the reader and the character, but Cherise Wolas manages that with flying colours.
Layers of Sophistication
Needless to say, this is the kind of story that is moved by character development more than the actual plot itself. As a matter of fact, I’d have to say that it moves a long at a very deliberate pace, one that gives us enough time to absorb and reflect on what we’ve been reading… and boy does is that time useful. Even if you are the kind of reader who can swallow thousand-page books whole, you will still want to take your time with this one and slowly assimilate everything you’re reading. There are plenty of themes that get explored throughout, including the powers of hope and faith, the effect a community can have on an individual (and vice-versa), the need of humans to follow their aspirations, the gives and takes of family life, and that’s just to name a few.
Ultimately, I think that the message Cherise Wolas was trying to send through her book is that life is indeed unfair and often takes us into directions we would have rather avoided. When there is nothing to be done, there is no point in lamenting on the bad things that happened or the good things that didn’t: the only real hope for happiness is to look towards the future and make the best of what you have right now. In other word, lingering on misery, however tempting it may be, only holds us back from achieving our true potential.
The Final Verdict
Considering The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is Cherise Wolas’ debut novel, I have to say I am tremendously impressed with her writing ability as well as her capacity for character creation. This is a very strong, compelling and unique story that delivers on many fronts and deserves to be read over and over again. If you like profound works that touch on family life, parenthood, and everything that comes with it, then I very strongly recommend this novel for you.