By Hulden Morse
This was one of the best fiction “true story” novels I have ever had the opportunity to read. This was such an intense story that, after reading it, I had to wait an entire week to be able to collect my thoughts well enough to write a review for it.
Under the idea that ALL of this really happened…
The CEO of a non-profit help-the-homeless organization decides to go undercover after finding out that five of his districts are doing exponentially better than the others in the country. He knows that just calling or showing up, running an internal audit, that sort of thing will not get to the REAL reasons as to why these districts are so much more successful than all the others, some much more well established than these. To find out what it is that he’s not being told, he figures the best course of action is to actually live on the streets as a homeless person and wait for recruiters from one of his facilities to come and “enlist” him into their program.
Their program involves medical treatment, life coaching, job skills and training, housing placement, job placement. All of the things one would need to get back on their feet and re-enter society as a contributing member (to put it in politician and therapeutic speak). What they do is they have staff members that drive vans around in neighborhoods where homeless tend to congregate. Then they get out, talk to the people on the streets, tell them how they can help them with food, shelter, medical care, work, etc. The people get in the vans and then they are led to the facility and enrolled in the life coaching/rehabilitation program. Once they graduate from the program, they are placed into the job market and put out into the world to start their lives anew. These five districts have exceptionally high recruitment, success and placement rates. The numbers of homeless people in their areas have also changed. But something with the numbers…is off.
Charles Pearson, CEO of Reaching Dreams, takes himself to the streets. Nobody is aware, not even his wife and children, except his Chief Administrative Assistant Paula Hamilton and a private investigator, tasked with the sole responsibility of keeping Charles safe and under close watch while living on the streets. Unfortunately, their efforts to keep Charles’ experiment a secret nor to keep Charles safe are successful.
As it turns out, Charles does get “recruited” while on the streets. But it’s not what anybody thinks. Charles is taken from the streets in his sleep and wakes up in some strange facility, one that he is not sure is a Reaching Dreams facility. There he finds the difference between those that truly want to help people and those that want something entirely different.
Soon, Charles finds himself trapped in a facility of Hell, made worse by the fact that it seems to be well funded, highly condoned and one of the best kept secrets to date.
As more and more details become known, Charles must use everything within himself to try to figure out where he is, what is going on and what the final plan for him entails. At the same time, his go-to gal Paula is frantically trying to uncover the mystery within the company and, at the same time, find her beloved mentor and employer without causing anything else bad to happen...or losing her job.
I found this entire novel to be intensely riveting and a must read. I had a very hard time putting it down and often read until my eyes could simply no longer stay open. It was definitely a fast-paced thriller and kept moving with every chapter. No lulls, no boring chapters full of character description and scenery. Something happens every chapter, everywhere.
I also love the way it’s written. The idea that it’s an actual event in American history coming out at yet another time in society when so many are questioning the veracity of the government is a fantastic attention getter. I think there are so many people that are leery of the government as it is that this story would scare, entertain AND help reason out that kind of fear. It allows those that keep saying things like this are not possible to see that they are, in fact, possible in this day and age.
We often forget the kind of power the government has and how little they are truly monitored; how little the government is subject to a REAL system of checks and balances anymore. This novel is a microscopic example of what some think the government is actually capable of.
There are things that happen behind those government walls that we, as citizens, know nothing about. Our ignorance of many things is not only condoned but, counted upon and used against us concerning matters of all sorts, large and small. A lot of it is of little or no consequence. Matters for which the American public neither has the education, the temperance or the time to concern themselves with. We trust these people to make decisions that dictate the very rules to our existence.
And yet, what if they really were doing the things all the “Truthers” or “Conspiracy Theorists” talk about???
I have to be honest, it’s truly a difficult task to fully creep me out. To be able to impact me on a level where I had to wrestle with this story for a few days just to write a review KNOWING it was fiction says a ton about how incredibly well it’s put together. I couldn’t help but keep questioning over and over, “Wait, this IS fiction, right?” and then I would have to double check the book. Even now as I keep thinking about it while writing this review, it still gives me chills and that all over creeped out feeling. This author passed the bar with flying colors on the creep factor...and still going.
Exceptionally well done. A must read for any suspense/thriller lover.
You can purchase it HERE.