An "extraordinary"* and "breathtaking"** debut about a family given an impossible miracle and a second chance at life.
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.
* Publishers Weekly, starred review ** Kirkus Reviews, starred review
PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK:
Published by: Harlequin/Mira
Pages: 338 and Author's Note
Author: Jason Mott
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various literary journals. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award and Entertainment Weekly listed him as one of their 10 “New Hollywood: Next Wave” people to watch.
The Returned is Jason’s debut novel and has been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air in March, 2014 on the ABC network under the title “Resurrection.”
INTERVIEW WITH MR. MOTT:
THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :
In 1968 my young husband of 42 years of age died of cancer leaving me (34 yrs. old) with 3 children under the age of 9. It was a horrific time, the loss was catastrophic to me. After all these years and two other marriages, I still feel a deep sense of loss of him. Since he died I have had several "visits" in dreams with my him. These dreams have been different from regular dreams...comforting and informative about my future and current life...meaningful about what his situation is. I've come to appreciate that life goes on after death. All this to say that I believe Jason Mott actually had a "visit" from his mother that inspired his book. And because of that "visit" I believe that his book is very special in many ways to those of us who have lost loved ones. I also think it has a message for those who will be faced with death in the future.
That is not to say that this is a perfect literary work of fiction. Mr. Mott is a new author with a work that still needs refinement. The dialog is often stilted and I found myself wishing it would advance and become more sophisticated. I wanted it to have as rich a text as it had a meaning. It was often lacking in this area. But, I believe with more experience much of this will be corrected. Dialog is, it seems to me, the most difficult thing about creating believable characters. This is Jason's debut.
Speaking of characters, there are so many good ones. Harold Hargrave was my favorite. A father who searched his soul to make room for his "returned" son, who gave his heart and service to others, who bridged the humanity and the intellectual around the issues; he was a man who really faced the reality of the situation that befell those "true living." There were other characters so well-drawn and so deeply felt I believed in their life-force. I believe they lived and do live through Mr. Mott. An amazing, descriptive group of people to embrace.
Above all, this is a story that brought me "home" to a place I recognized. I read the book until my eyes were giving out and burned, begging me to stop and close them. It's a story that won't let you go until the end. You want to get a resolution in your mind...to think it through after it's finished, as well.
When I went to bed last night I dreamed of my late husband, although it wasn't a "visit," and I woke up this morning thinking of him. I wonder what the outcome would be if he "returned." I think I know.
I hope this book does get aired as a tv show because I'll be the first to watch it! I highly recommend the book to you. Wonderful story for a book group discussion. I look forward to hearing more from Jason Mott.
4.5 stars Deborah/TheBookishDame