Here is a picture of pain, unlike that of any I have read before. Written from a deep place of personal experience, Rudy Wiebe weaves together the narrative of Hal Wiens, a retired professor mourning the passing of his wife. As the story opens, a new facet of grief is revealed: Rudy Wiebe follows Hal on a journey of reopening old wounds, processing buried grief, and coming to terms with anger and pain as a result of the loss of his son by suicide some twenty-five years earlier.
For there to be great impact and influence, there often seems to be a call for a great amount of pain. This offers the opportunity for rejection of both the pain and the influence altogether, of which denial in grief is a clear indicator. Through writing this novel, Rudy Wiebe has taken hold of the influence through the pain; he has written through his denial, his anger, his stages of grief, to bring an account of these things. Through his initial rejection of the pain and the influence, this book welcomes the possibility of both. Rather than hiding behind the secrets of the experience, Wiebe has taken the time to offer what he may for anyone willing to understand, trying to understand, or needing to understand for their own sake.
I would not venture to say that this book would help anyone with a similar experience, although it could. I would not even say that it is a healthy outlook, or a helpful one, although it may help somehow. Come Back offers insight into a very dark, twisted and painful place where many people would not allow themselves to go. The poetic illustration of agony is masterful, impactful, and influential to the last page. Each word seems chosen with great care, especially in the dialogue, which flows so roughly, so like actual speech in the day-to-day. Wading through grief is violent, graphic, and in Wiebe's raw and real
way, it took my breath away at times. This is not an easy read, but I
would say a worthy one.
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