Can love really conquer all? For the walking wounded who carry deep pain, a phrase like that can seem trite. Becky Wade weaves a moving tale of the hope ofredemptive love in her new book, A Love Like Ours(Bethany House/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-0764211096/$13.99). In it she introduces us to former Marine Jake Porter, who carries scars far deeper than the one that marks his face. After serving his country in the Middle East, he returns home struggling with symptoms of PTSD. His pain causes him to live a solitary life, avoiding relationships even with his dearest loved ones.
Q: What is the overarching theme of A Love Like Ours?
Finding hope. The hero of the novel, Jake Porter, is a former Marine and Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. Eight years after returning from his final tour, Jake still struggles with PTSD.A Love Like Ours is about rediscovering hope that once was lost.
Q: Why do you think we’re so susceptible to looking for hope in sources apart from God?
Because God isn’t tangible. We can’t see, feel, hear or talk with Him in the same ways we interact with everyone and everything else. It requires effort on our part to refocus our minds and our hope on Him. Even though He’s the only source of lasting, meaningful hope, it’s sometimes easier to grasp for the things around us that seem to provide “happiness.”
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
Heartwarming. Humorous. Modern. Romantic. Jake is a brooding hero, but his heroine, Lyndie, is funny and outgoing and brave. The overall tone of A Love Like Ours is hopefully very optimistic.
Q: Why did you begin A Love Like Ours with a prologue that gives the reader a glimpse into Jake and Lyndie’s childhood?
Jake and Lyndie were best friends as children. I felt a glimpse into their past together would give the love story between them as adults sweetness and depth.
Q: Jake Porter, the hero of your book, is an actual hero. He served with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and now struggles with PTSD from his experiences overseas. According to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20 percent of veterans who served inOperations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year. What motivated you to write this type of hero?
I’m extremely grateful to our veterans for their service. I cast Jake as my hero because I was moved by news stories I’ve seen and read throughout the years about service men and women who come home with physical injuries and/or disorders such as PTSD.
Q: Is love enough to help people overcome their PTSD symptoms?
No. Everything I read on the topic indicated there is no straight path to a “cure” for PTSD. Not even love. I certainly believe love can motivate someone to turn toward healing and toward God. However, I was careful not to portray Jake’s love for Lyndie as something that solved his issues. Toward the end of the novel, in fact, his love for her actually brings all his issues to the fore.
Q: Not only does Jake suffer with PTSD, but he isn’t a Christian, which causes stress in his relationship with Lyndie. How can a woman’s desire to “fix” a broken man come back to hurt her?
Only God can fix broken people. So whenever you or I latch on to the belief we have the power to change someone else, we’re in trouble and possibly bound for huge disappointment.
Q: There’s a subplot in A Love Like Ours about Thoroughbred horse racing. Did you learn something about horse racing you didn’t know before while doing research for the book?
Jake is a Thoroughbred trainer, and Lyndie is an exercise jockey. I had a wonderful time researching Thoroughbred racing for this novel! I read two books by trainers from cover to cover, as well as numerous online articles. I visited our local horse track and took a tour of the backstretch. I communicated with a woman who spent the bulk of her career in the horse-racing world. I watched a season of the reality show Jockeys set at Santa Anita. And I listened to the audio book ofSeabiscuit.
Just about everything I learned was new to me! One fun fact: Great Thoroughbreds often have companion horses they stable next to, travel with and that act as their lead ponies before races. The two horses seem to form a deep and calming attachment to each other. The idea of that caught my imagination, and I immediately wrote a companion horse into the book.
Q: Has bonding with and caring for horses proven to be therapeutic for those who have experienced trauma?
Absolutely. I live in Dallas, and there’s a fabulous therapeutic riding stable here called Equest that has programs for a wide range of people, including veterans. Riding seems to empower, lessen anxiety, bolster confidence and build bonds of trust between animal and human.
Q: Lyndie’s sister has cerebral palsy and needs constant care. How did that help shape the person she became?
Life with her sister gave Lyndie a tender heart toward people who are different and who have challenges. She’s doggedly hopeful, and she’s not easily dissuaded. All qualities that come in handy in her relationship with Jake!
Q: Can you tell us about the family on which you based much of this story?
A few years back, my daughter had a pre-school teacher named Kari. Kari is the kindest, warmest, most fun and most tender-hearted woman I could have hoped for my daughter to have as her teacher. In getting to know Kari, I got to know her family. Kari has two daughters. Her oldest is a completely healthy eighth grader. Her youngest was born with severe cerebral palsy due in part to her skull being shattered at birth by the use of forceps. Kari’s younger daughter is blind and non-verbal and requires round-the-clock care. Yet, in spite of their challenges, this family blew me away with their joy and energy and positivity. I knew from the time I met them I wanted to base a fictional family on them.
Q: Please tell us about the charity that is going to benefit from a portion of the sales of A Love Like Ours.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is building centers at bases across America that aid veterans in their recovery. I selected this charity in particular because IFHF addresses physical rehabilitation, but also helps with traumatic brain injuries and with psychological health conditions. A portion of the proceeds from sales of A Love Like Ours through May 17 will go to Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Q: In what way do you hope A Love Like Ours encourages its readers?
I hope the novel reminds readers that in God, there’s always reason to hope! He has the power to redeem all things in His time.