“Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.”
Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep-flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.
All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.
With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
This is how I judge a good book:
The narrative is engaging, unique or has perspective that I hadn’t considered before.
The book makes me think.
I can place myself in the setting.
I like at least some/all of the main characters.
The characters are 3 dimensional.
The writing flows, the dialogue is natural.
I think about the book and its message long after I finish reading the last page.
My emotions are engaged… sometimes overwhelmed…
I can’t put the book down; I must read till the end.
The Returned ticks all these boxes. A great read. A premise that was interesting and unique (though at some point in our lives I think we have all considered the question, what happens when we die?) This novel takes this question one step further and suggests the dead can return and then looks at the chaos and the joy that erupts, looks at how we all approach life…and death and dying; the choices we make in how we live our lives, to the full or with regrets and anger.
This is a gently written, elegant debut novel. Its power lies is its gentle prose. This is a stunning read that had me gently weeping at the end. This book made me think not only of the Returned in “government controlled camps” but the plight of refugees and “illegal immigrants” suffering similar fates; the judgements, the bigotry, the unkindness and small mindedness, the fear, that determines how we treat “others”, a problem that is haunting Australia today. A great read, a great story, be prepared to be totally engaged and involved.