Melissa reviews Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen published March 26th 2018 by Carina Press, 327 pages.
There’d forever been a thread running through Trevor Estes’s life—his son, Riley, strong and constant like a heartbeat. But when Riley is killed in combat, everything in Trevor’s life unravels into a mess he doesn’t know how to mourn.
Then Jesse Byrne, Riley’s friend and platoon mate, arrives on Trevor’s doorstep with a box of Riley’s things. Jesse’s all-too-familiar grief provides an unlikely source of comfort for Trevor: knowing he’s not alone is exactly what he needs.
Trevor never imagined he’d find someone who fills his heart with hope again. As the pair celebrate Riley’s memory, their unique bond deepens into something irreplaceable—and something neither man can live without.
But diving into a relationship can’t be so simple. Being together means Trevor risking the last link he has to his son…leaving Jesse to wonder if he’ll ever be enough, or if Trevor will always be haunted by the past.
A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I kept seeing this book come up with great reviews, and I decided I just couldn’t miss the boat. Plus it dealt with loss and sounded angsty, so it was a no brainer.
This book made me cry. I love a story that makes me feel something, and I especially love a story that makes my heart clench and has me reaching for the tissues. I don’t know where the inspiration came from for Melanie Hansen to write this beautiful story, and I hope it’s not from personal experience. The loss of a loved one is hard enough, but I can’t imagine it’s anything compared to losing a child, especially thru war. Not only do the parents suffer the loss of their child, but they also have had to live thru the torture of worrying about them so far away, thinking today might be the day. And when that day comes, Trevor is not prepared.
Melanie Hansen has been able to capture Trevor’s grief and pain and anger and PTSD so realistically I just ached for him. It takes amazing talent to bring the reader into a story in such a way as to make them feel like they are part of the story. Part of the reason the loss of Riley is so hard is because the story was structured in the perfect way. It’s not flashbacks and time going back and forth. No, it starts with Riley and his friends celebrating in his backyard the day before they are to ship out. We as the reader know what is about to happen. The start of the book is entitled: Part One – Before. July 2007 – Ten months before. Everyone is happy and having a good time, Trevor and Carl are together and comforting each other (Carl is comforting Trevor more than anything else). Trevor is worried about Riley going to Afghanistan, dreading him being wounded or killed. He doesn’t want his son to go, but he is also very proud of him and can see him growing up.
The story progresses with (almost) each chapter telling you how much time until Riley is killed. And even when the day comes and you know this is it, I could not stop hoping and praying that he would live. I knew from the blurb what was going to happen, but I still didn’t want to believe he was going to die. I thought there could be some miracle and he would be saved. I was that invested in these characters. It was so emotional when Jesse was with Riley during those last moments. I can’t tell you how many tissues I went thru. I was dreading the moment when Trevor would learn about Riley. They had a very close relationship since Trevor had raised Riley on his own, and oh my God, how Trevor loved his son. I am getting emotional as I write this. Their relationship is what families dream of.
After Trevor is told about Riley’s death, he is torn about what he should do about everything, from where to bury him, if he should see him, what to do about Riley’s belongings, the money Trevor received as a result of Riley’s death, plus so many other things. I dare anyone to remain dry-eyed during this part.
When Jesse visits Trevor a few months after Riley’s death, it’s very cathartic for Trevor because it’s clear Riley and Jesse were close and shared a special friendship. It helped Trevor to see his son thru Jesse’s stories and to be able to talk about Riley openly and without hesitation. The relationship that blossoms between Jesse and Trevor is so natural and comes over time. Neither intended for it to happen, and they both feared what it meant, but they didn’t hesitate to try. I don’t have the right words to express how good that made me feel – that they were willing to try to have a real relationship between them.
Naturally this has a bittersweet ending because Riley is still dead, but Trevor and Jesse have found each other and are starting a life filled with love and helping others. They will never forget Riley and always visit him in Arlington on his birthday. I see them being very happy together and leading the best of lives, and helping hundreds of people who have suffered one way or another because of war and battle.
5 emotional stars/10 pots and I HIGHLY recommend this one.
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
How to contact Melanie Hansen