Monday, July 9, 2012
Hillary E. Peak - Wings of Hope - Review
About the Book
The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father. She goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life. Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself. While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams. Her journey teacher her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.
What really matters in life when death is near? Novelist Hillary E. Peak examines that question with compassion and heart-rending humanity in her work, Wings of Hope. It is a poignant, intimate look at the final days of a still developing, father-daughter relationship. When Dr. Solomon Weinstein is diagnosed with a brain tumor and given weeks to live, he makes a heartfelt plea to his daughter, Jules, asking her to stay with him until the end. What complicates matters is that Jules knows her father only as a long-time acquaintance rather than a devoted parent. Spending intermittent holidays and vacations with him throughout her childhood, she never had the opportunity to understand Sol's motivation for walking out on his family to advance his career. Would he have any regrets? Would he even express them to her?
Peak handles what could be a tension-filled backstory with a light touch. Surprisingly, Jules doesn't harbor any anger or resentment toward Sol for choosing to further his ambition over the responsibility of being an involved father figure. Instead, she leaves her job, apartment and boyfriend behind in San Francisco to attend to her father's needs in New York. She makes the sacrifice of uprooting her life in order to be there for him, something he chose not to do when the roles were reversed. It is a noble gesture that is subtly woven through the pages, and it is a facet of Jules' character deserving of added emphasis.
Dying is never an easy or painless ordeal, and Peak cushions the blow by detailing the freedom and wealth surrounding Sol Weinstein. He lives in a posh, Manhattan apartment complete with a sympathetic doorman and private car service. He has the financial means to travel to Europe at a moment's notice, staying in the best hotels with his daughter and eating at the finest restaurants. And when his condition begins to rapidly deteriorate, he is able to afford in-home hospice care. Having money allows Sol to live his final days the way most dream about, but never realize. Peak has a deft hand in tempering difficult emotional material with the fantasy lifestyle surrounding her characters. She creates a painful portrait of losing a parent coupled with flights of fancy - dining atop the Eiffel Tower, sipping Mimosas on a trans-Atlantic flight, attending a night out at the opera. These details of luxurious living help ease the building tension providing the reader with breathing space from the impending conclusion of the narrative.
Peak realistically portrays the sudden removal of Sol from the story's dialogue during his final days. As he finds it difficult to speak, eat, even drink, his voice is sorely missed in the remaining pages. As a reader, it is easy to get caught up in his inner transformation and the bit-by-bit unveiling of his life story, that his physical deterioration still comes as a shock. There is an inherent feeling that more is needed from this character, but it is, in fact, too late. Peak shows that even while a person is still outwardly alive, the intrinsic element of an individual's personality can be lost ahead of time with the inability to communicate. It is a powerful, and moving, lesson.
Overall, the essential message of Wings of Hope is to cultivate a spirit of joy de vivre. It is through the simple things like enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee or taking the dog for a walk that a person feels truly alive. But most of all, it's having the companionship of someone who will listen - who will hear our life story and be changed because of it. It's about knowing that every individual makes a difference in the world, no matter how small. And Jules was able to provide that lasting sense of fulfillment and contentment to her father by allowing his life story to influence her own - and in turn, the reader's.
Wings of Hope can be purchased at:
Barnes & Noble.com
Price: $9.99 paperback, $2.99 ebook
Release: December 2011
About the Author
Hillary Peak is a recovering idealist. She became a lawyer to change the world and is still somewhat shocked that didn't occur. Now, her goal is to retire from practicing law and write novels that people love. She is currently a practicing attorney in the District of Columbia. She lives with her family in Alexandria, VA.
Connect with Hillary:
Tribute Books Blog Tour Site