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.
Title: The Returned
Author: Jason Mott
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
The Cover Contessa's Review:
I want to thank Harlequin for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review.
I will be honest and say I only had an inkling of what this book was about when I picked it up to read it. I am really a true YA fan and don't often read things outside that genre. But the publisher had told me this was a great read, so I opened it up while I was on vacation and I was pleasantly surprised!
I must start by saying that the cover of this book would have drawn me in no matter where I had gotten it from. I love the color scheme for sure. And the way the cover designer chose to have the little boy upside down is an interesting choice for the theme of this book.
The book is told from third person point of view. Between each chapter is an excerpt taken from one of the Returned's lives after they have come back. An interesting concept: people who have died start to suddenly reappear with no explanation. While the thought of being able to talk to those who have died and getting some closure would be something that many of would like to do, I don't think we have in mind the consequences such actions would bring. How it would turn the world upside down. How things happen for a reason and to alter them could change the course of our lives in ways we are unprepared to face.
Most of the story centers around Harold and Lucille, an older couple who lost their 8 year old son many years ago. So, when he turns up on the doorstep one day with a man from the FBI, they are not sure what to think. Should they take him in and love him and pretend as if nothing happened. Should they refuse to keep him because he seems to be something less than human. It's a fine line. And the gentleman from the FBI, he's not sure what to make of things. And he has a secret of his own he's not willing to share outright which affects how he feels about the entire scenario of people coming back from the sea. While they want with all their hearts to believe their son has come back from the dead, they are torn by the fact that he is just not the same little boy they once knew. With each Returned we are introduced to, we can see that something is a bit off, they are not quite human. They are more quite, more reserved, and often unsure.
The story reminds me of how we would react if a foreign species, such as an alien race, were to suddenly arrive on earth. There would be people who wanted for the species to integrate, to be part of our society so that we could learn from them. Then there would be those who would be too scared to have this foreign race within our society, wanting to lock them up and keep them away from everyone. There is a certain societal rift that we see in this book that is indicative of human nature. The book focuses much of it's story on the societal reactions to the returned and how they are dealt with.
I have to say that I really enjoyed Mott's writing. For a debut novel this book is extremely well written. The story moved along at a good pace, although it was a little slow for my taste. He had nice descriptions of the characters and their situations. His writing is real and raw, honest and simple.
I did want to know more about the returned: why were they coming back and how? what did they want or need? But we don't find any of this information out. It all remains a big mystery. Somehow I do understand that this was certainly a part of the story: keeping the reader in the dark a bit (as the characters were in the dark) because there really was no plausible explanation for it all.
The story pulled on my emotions for sure, but just didn't have the kick I was really looking for to keep me completely interested and not wanting to put it down. The story is an interesting one, as is the concept, but the execution was a bit lacking for me. This book is a great crossover for both adults and teens. I think any number of people can enjoy it.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 journals such as Prick of the Spindle, The Thomas Wolfe Review, The Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Measure and Chautauqua. 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.
He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…” The Returned is his first novel.
The Returned 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.”