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Book details
  • SubGenre:Military
  • Language:English
  • Pages:309
  • eBook ISBN:9781623093150


Rockin' in The Free World

by H.S. Means

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“Once in a while, right in the middle of ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” So begins a memoir written by a young Army wife as her husband lay dying. She wanted her baby daughters to know about the incredible man who was their father. Like a lot of little boys, Ryan Means wanted to grow up to be a soldier. After filling out a recruitment card, a couple of Marines came knocking on his mom’s door looking to see if he had the right stuff...He was 9-years-old. Ryan found his best friend in the first grade. Adam Shelby White died on Sept. 11, 2001, and Ryan made this entry in his journal: “First time writing since World Trade Center attacks. Adam was on floor 105 and certainly killed. I’ve now officially given up and simply ask that my best friend watch over me – as he always did.” Ryan would vow to avenge this death, and with Adam’s initials tattooed on his rib cage, Ryan Patman Means enlisted in the Army and eventually became a Green Beret. He took Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” as his anthem. Ryan signed his e-mail home to family and friends with his initials R.P.M. and the song line. While on leave, he met Heather Hohman. In 2007, Ryan asked her to marry him. The birth of a baby girl made the Means a family. Ryan barely got to know Elizabeth when he was deployed to Iraq. By 2009, Heather was pregnant again when Ryan began suffering serious medical problems overseas. In May of 2009, a call came in the middle of the night from a hospital in Baghdad. It was a very rare form of liver cancer. Ryan was 35-years-old. Two days later, Ryan was flown to Walter Reed Army Hospital and then to Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He would live only one more month, but his second daughter, Sophie-Ryan, came early. RPM masterfully combines Heather and Ryan's memoirs in a story of love, war, patriotism, courage and the strength of human will. Ryan's legacy gives us an a new appreciation of life as we will live it after our loved ones have passed.
Handsome boy meets beautiful girl. They fall in love and get married. Daughter Elizabeth arrives, followed quickly by another pregnancy. But in an instant the perfect love story takes a hideous twist for Heather Means, mother of Elizabeth. Her Green Beret husband, Ryan Patman Means, is stationed with his Special Forces team in a forlorn camp in Iraq. He was there by choice, having enlisted after his best friend was slain in the World Trade Center on 9/11. He wanted to personally go hunt down those responsible. Ryan is the archetype of the American male hero: fearless, patriotic, confident, kind, and brilliant, bundled in a sculpted body with devilish good looks. Men have always sought out his friendship, drawn by his devil-may-care attitude. He describes himself as a "barrel-chested freedom fighter." His spirit is captured by his positive mantra, providing advice to his large audience of friends and loved ones, "Keep on rockin' in the free world." As Ryan nears the end of his deployment in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Heather receives a 3 a.m. phone call. Ryan tells her, "Heather ... I have liver cancer." He is told he has 30 days to live and is sent to Walter Reed Hospital. Heather's world comes crashing down. She is 31 years old. In her brilliant memoir, "RPM Rocking in the Free World," Heather Means fascinates us with the characterization of her Ryan as a boy and then as a man. She delights us with the exquisite love story of their romance morphing into a marriage built on eternal love, unshakable trust, and unreserved commitment. The two indeed become one. The child flourishes in the arms of her loving parents. The marriage is one of joy and hope. But then we suffer with her as Ryan fights for his life against all odds. We walk the hospital aisles with her as she and Ryan's close family spend a month-long vigil providing support for Ryan and each other. Above all else, we discover the depth of her love for Ryan and her iconic courage as she travels through this nightmare world that inevitably leads to Ryan's passing. But like Scarlett O'Hara she must face the future. She vows to insure the two daughters always understand how wonderful their father was. She tells us, "I know from living with Ryan that life should never be about what you want to be, but who you want to be." It has been three years since she lost Ryan, and she reflects, "The sadness never completely leaves. It comes and goes like the ocean waves." A memoir can only be considered excellent literature if the author reveals the whole unvarnished truth. And Heather Means holds nothing back. Her emotions are visceral as she describes the incredible bonding she and Ryan shared, the acute agony she felt as Ryan wasted away on his hospital bed, clutching pictures of his daughters, and the feelings of helplessness, despair, and shock when the unspeakable happened to her young family. She reassures us, "I know that nothing I deal with on a daily basis is as horrible as the day I lost him. I know that everything is really going to be okay." Heather Means' story, told with rich prose, will become an award-winning book. It is a love story for the ages.
About the author
Heather Means is the widow of Army Special Forces soldier Ryan P. Means. She retired her Doctorate in Physical Therapy to begin her writing career after Ryan's passing in 2009. Heather's writing style is vivid and raw. Nothing is withheld in her memoir, which places readers in the front seat of an emotional roller coaster that is the life of a Special Forces wife, mother and eventually, young widow. Her husband's journal entires from New York City post 9/11 (found after his death) are detailed as he describes looking for the body of his best friend after the World Trade Center attacks and then the road he chose to follow to avenge this death. Ryan's letters to his 'fan club' from Special Ops training and deployments overseas are juxtaposed with Heather's accounts from the home front. Heather has mastered to true life modern day love and war story, seemingly with out having to try. Her memoir, in it's unrestricted fashion, leaves readers with a new perspective on their own lives.