- Pro Review
- Discovery Awards
By J.A. Carter-Winward
The protagonist of J.A. Carter-Winward WADE is a lonely man, a widow stumbling through life for the last nine months since his wife passed away from a long battle with cancer. But after she’s gone, Wade realizes his marriage was loveless and cold. His dead wife kept secrets, and the only person she didn’t seem to confide in — or provide for — was Wade. As a result, Wade is a roiling bag of emotions. He’s starved for affection but can’t connect with women. His wife’s sister Tammy brings him dinner most nights, but their meals together are punctuated by awkward silence. Wade finds words don’t always match intentions in the “Land of Womenspeak.” His rigid nature has also estranged him from his sons; “successful” Milt keeps his distance, while kind-but-troubled Cody is fresh out of prison rehab, home for the holidays, and dating the same local waitress Wade failed to woo a few months prior. The only people Wade seems to connect with are the lonely old war vets in town. The collision of grief and hate drive him to do the unthinkable — visit the local brothel (the story is set in Nevada, where prostitution is legal.) His first visit is innocent enough — Wade just needs a cold beer and a hug. But his conflicting emotions begin to painfully sort themselves out after he meets prostitute/sex therapist, Sienna. Her kissing and cuddling “girlfriend experience” opens his emotional flood gates and ignites romantic White Knight fantasizes of “rescuing” Sienna from the brothel.
Carter-Winward dives deep into the nature of sex, love, and the coveted place where the two intersect. As Sienna notes, “sex is complicated.” Not the act itself, but the emotional underpinnings attached to it: feelings of self worth, vulnerability, and identity. While Tammy and Sienna help Wade mend his broken soul, not all wounds can be healed. The paralysis that plagues Wade’s fingers is not only a metaphor for his inability to change, it’s a harbinger of something much more sinister. But hope lies in Wade’s ability to finally connect with others. Wade visits a prostitute for emotional healing rather than sexual gratification, echoing the existential woes of JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye protagonist, Holden Caulfield. Carter-Winward ups the literary ante by having Sienna and Wade read books together — Camus’ The Stranger, JG Ballard’s The Kindness of Women, and Steinbeck’s The Winter Of Our Discontent. These books, as much as Sienna’s words, challenge Wade’s belief system and open his eyes to the possibility of change. Great novels can do that. WADE by J.A. Carter-Winward is a great novel.
Part Portnoy’s Complaint, part The Catcher in the Rye, WADE follows its buttoned-up title character through a series eye-opening and heart-wrenching relationship mishaps in a brilliantly crafted, engaging and thought-provoking story of passion and need.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader
Binary Press Publications, LLC
By J.A. Carter-Winward
In WADE, J. A. Carter-Winward explores the tangled maze of male sexuality with care and candor – a rare approach in our sex-saturated culture. After his wife passes away, the titular protagonist struggles with life, loss, love, and lust. Both heartbreaking and heart-warming, this is a novel for everyone searching for meaning and connection in their lives.
WADE is a 2021 Discovery Awards winner in the Literary Fiction category. See J. A. Carter-Winward’s acceptance speech here and learn more about this remarkable book.