A Reason to Be: A Novel
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews and promotes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and is also author of the Toby's Tails series of children's books.
Braveheart meets Love Actually in this incredible journey of discovery.
As this compelling story begins we find the protagonist Douglas McCombs distraught, having nursed his wife Hope, the love of his life, with Alzheimer’s for the last 5 years, she has died. Grief-stricken he falls into the deepest of despairs and goes to that place only those who have lost love ones will know. Unable to remain in the family home he moves to an apartment and there gives up on everything, his reason to be lost…
Luckily his good friend called Mark calls to see him and is devastated by the shadow of a man Douglas has become. Gently he reminds him that he is an accomplished man with hundreds of patents and inventions to his credit, and reflects of the time when he was at the White House receiving the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his inventions and advances in health science technology from the President, reminding Douglas about his own incredulity that he was actually there, and how he asked himself, was it his upbringing, his wife Hope, or his Scottish ancestry?
Finally, Mark wins him over and thus beings his re-emergence into normal life, catapulted forward by a chance incident which is just the catalyst he needs, the meeting of librarian Suzy Hamilton. Encouraged by her love of research, suddenly he finds himself rekindling his need to discover himself through his genealogy, which traces back to Scottish clans with their fierce pride, and loyalty. His journey takes him across the world, places his ancestors at important historical events, and introduces him to the determined and strong men, and women, whose blood flows through his veins.
Coming from Scottish roots, I know first-hand of the deep pride the Scottish feel in their family, its roots, and the glorious country which is their home. No matter where in the world they are, you can’t take Scotland out of a Scot, and I should know, living in France. This feeling and strength grows steadily in Douglas as he begins to understand more, and more, his family and how it has evolved including the sacrifices each generation has made for their children.
With these revelations come other more personal ones, as he slowly begins to permit himself to feel again, he learns anew how to smile, look forward to life, and yes, he even rediscovers his reason to be.
At the beginning of this incredible story there was heartrending sorrow, and then slowly the pages like petals unfurl, and with them so does Douglas. Emotions grow and events unfold until eventually, having feverishly been unable to put it down, I discovered with great sadness that I had reached the end of the most incredible story, I have ever read. Highly recommended!