Anyone who has ever lost a loved one has wondered: What would it be like if they were still alive? We always think in terms of the specific person we've lost. We wonder how it would feel for us to embrace our lost lover, to kiss our child, to talk to our mother again.
But did you ever think about what it would be like if ALL of the departed were here with us again?
Jason Mott thought about it, and created a compelling, page-turner of a novel that also asks readers to think about personal relationships, cultural expectations, and ultimately, what it means to be truly alive.
Coming out in September, Mott's debut novel brings us into the home of Lucille and Harold Hargrave, an elderly couple with a contentious-but-affectionate relationship. Harold is a bit of a cynic, while Lucille believes there's no situation that can't be made better by just finding the right word for it. Until one day, there's a knock on the door, and it's the Hargrave's 8-year-old son standing in the doorway. Lucille has no words for this, as the boy, Jacob, had died decades earlier. Yet, here he is.
Mott structures the story around how the Hargraves, their town, and the world deal with the return of Jacob and others like him, but the larger themes are made personal by his focus on this one reunited family.
The Returned is engaging from the outset, a real page-turner except for a slight slowdown in the middle chapters. The final scenes are vivid and suspenseful.
(Book reviewed from an Advanced Reading Copy provided by NetGalley.)