Growing up, Will believes that looking at him is what drove her away. When a psychologist urges him to explore his memory of the fire, he chooses instead to suppress its pain and trauma. Will takes up painting for both solace and a refuge from bullying at school, and finds a path that offers a different kind of struggle-to find his own identity as an artist and a man.
His talent brings his mother, now a famous abstract expressionist, back into his life, and he discovers the real reason she fled from her family. Despite warnings from his father, he allows her role in his life to grow, leading to unexpected opportunity and a strange bond shaped by the artistic fires that drive them both.
Struggling to develop his ability, he must choose between the philosophies and ideals of his two very different parents-the father who raised him with loving care and the mother who considers feelings and emotions only roadblocks on an artist's creative path.
Will's talent grows as he acts out his anger. Struggling in the competitive art world of Chicago and New York, he desperately seeks his mother's love and acceptance but instead must live with the only help she is able to give: subsistence money and the harsh counsel that has painfully shaped her own life.
An artist's true way, she insists, must be through adversity. A brutal physical attack that leaves his family in crisis, and an eccentric girl whose strange wildness he comes to love, help lead Will to a series of bold, cathartic, searingly honest self-portraits-embracing the face he's always run from.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.64(d)|
About the Author
His newest adult novel, The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder, he views as a drama about America's cultural values. French's work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Times and been honored with a number of literary prizes.
A native of Los Angeles, he also is a successful businessman, activist, and, with his wife, Patricia, a philanthropist raising money for programs aiding teachers in Santa Fe, N.M., public schools, which are some of the most challenged in the country. They divide their time between Santa Fe and Santa Barbara, Cal.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Michael French is a gifted story teller and writer. The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder follows the life of a young artist after he was disfigured by fire as a small boy. His challenges and complex relationships make for compelling reading. The story draws us into the world of contemporary art and allows us to appreciate art, business, and differing perceptions of beauty.
In using the life-development story of childhood-to-adolescence-to-artist, the writer has found a vehicle for a tale of an America family, and the growth of an artist.. But of course the life and family of Will Ryder are not ordinary ones. There are many facets and levels of interplay within a functional-dysfunctional family, and many opportunities to analyse, for example, aspects of a mother-son relationship, and to comment in an indirect manner on the world of modern art. As a reader who tends to speculate and over-analyse on the motivations and branching-decisions of an author when reading any work of fiction, with this novel I found myself forgetful of my usual tendency, rather wanting to get on to the next chapter, to learn as soon as possible of the next phase or adventure of Will's life. So beware that, as I was, the reader may be at times be drawn away from other obligations in order to finish another chapter or two. The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder is an fascinating, and in many ways a thought-provoking and edifying work.
Once I picked this book up I did not want to put it down. I found myself trying to sneak in an extra few pages of reading every chance I got. The Ryders seemed so alive and real to me. I felt a connection to the characters and cared about them so much that it was hard for me to stop reading. As the mother of a child with cleft lip and palate I could relate to fierce protectiveness of Will’s father and sister. I understand that animal instinct that takes over when someone cruelly harms your child. I could also relate to the delicate balancing act of trying to protect them from the hurt you know the world will eventually inflict on them and allowing them the freedom to grow into all they can be. As the book progresses we watch as Will grows from an isolated overprotected child to an confident up and coming artist. Though the three of them were very much in their own little world in the beginning Will and Hannah eventually assert their independence and leave the safety of their father’s nest. Through the years they drift further and further apart then come back together closer and stronger than ever. Throughout the book Will is in a constant struggle for acceptance, desperately seeking the approval and acceptance of his distant mother. He also seeks to be accepted by society for who he is and not what he looks like. Inside himself he battles onwards towards self-acceptance. This was the first Michael French book for me so I had no expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by what I read. Mr. French has a great gift for writing. He was not only able to keep me interested from the first page onward; he took me inside the book. This was a complex family drama with multiple layers of emotion and trauma that revealed themselves throughout. I was so deeply moved by this story that I did not want it to end. This book has left a mark on me. I will carry it with me for a long time to come. Add this to your reading list. You will not be disappointed. It’s definitely a must read book. FYI- I received an advance copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.
"The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder" tells a story of a young boy, his family and his journey into adulthood. Simple enough?? No. From the opening pages we read a letter dated 1983 from his mother to his father. I immediately felt a knot in my stomach. I tried to understand the conscious act of abandonement of a parent . Why?? Because we all bring ourselves to a story and try to understand another person. Wilson begins his life with a heavy burden that would/could destroy many people. He takes hold of his love of making art and takes us on a wonderful journey to adulthood. The author leads the reader to learn and look past Wilson's face and discover a strong heart.