Recovering Charles by Jason F. Wright is the poignant, thoughtful and heartwarming tale of Luke Millward and his journey of discovery in finding his estranged father, Charles after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Of course you must know that poignant and heartwarming is code for: it could make you sad, and if you’re prone to cry—you probably will. Yet, although the story has a sad premise—an estranged son going to New Orleans to try and find/recover his father’s body—it ends with hope, as all good novels should (in my opinion).
Chapter one begins with the media blitz surrounding the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Luke Millward, an award winning photographer is glued to his television—it’s an unhealthy obsession with disaster and he knows it, but he just can’t help but become involved via the tube.
Luke has a long-time friend/girlfriend named Jordan—she wishes their relationship was much more serious, he does too, except he can’t force himself to feel something he doesn’t. Whenever he needs someone to celebrate with, a shoulder to cry on, or the voice of reason—Jordan is always there.
It’s no surprise then, when Luke gets a call from someone who says he’s a friend of Charles Millward—Luke’s dad, that Jordan encourages him to respond. Charles been missing since before the hurricane hit—his friends and fiancé would like Luke to come to New Orleans to help them locate Charles.
This starts Luke’s road to self discovery and healing—he learns who his father really is, he learns about the unconquerable spirit of the hurricane victims—and he learns that he can feel love.
Charles, always a visionary man and an exceptional musician last had contact with his son over two years ago when he called, still drunk and begging for money. When Luke meets Jez—his father’s fiancé, her brother Jerome, and a beauty named Bela in New Orleans, Luke begins to heal from his less than idyllic childhood.
When he discovers that his father has dried up, helps run a nightclub, and started an organization that brings music to underprivileged students in the area, Luke realizes that he is hoping to find his father alive.
Wright does a good job of portraying the conditions in the area after their infamous disaster without being too gruesome or bogged down in heavy detail. We are shown enough to get the point without becoming depressed.
I must admit that I am not fond of heartwarming tales and I’ve learned the code-words well enough to avoid poignant movies as well. However, Recovering Charles is a well-written book and I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys heartwarming/poignant tales.