Published by Harlequin, MIRA on August 27, 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher, TLC Tours
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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.
The Returned was an intriguing book for me to read on many levels, and I made it through the pages in under a day. What if your loved ones who have passed away started to show up alive on earth, in the exact same state they were in right before they died? They don’t always show up on your doorstep or even your city; they’re often found in a foreign country or on the other side of the world. What would you do if you suddenly had another chance to spend more time with them?
Harold and Lucille Hargrave lost their son Jacob in 1966 when he drowned during his eighth birthday party. After over fifty years of being alone together–being a couple who once had a son–they get a second chance when an agent from the International Bureau of the Returned knocks on their door with Jacob in tow. Lucille instantly accepts Jacob as her original son resurrected while Harold is suspicious and doesn’t think that “it” is his son returned from the dead.
Now in their seventies, the Hargraves try to push forward as a family in this quickly changing world where their son is back but only eight years old, but the Returned are met with suspicion, fear, and prejudice. Riots break out all over the world while the governments try to gain control. When control is not maintained, the citizens try to do what the government has not, and soon life is difficult and violent for everyone. But life has become extremely difficult in the small, dying town of Arcadia, in the Southern United States where Harold, Lucille, and Jacob live, especially when the International Bureau of the Returned opens up a concentration camp that winds up engulfing the entire town. Soon families fight for survival, fight for their friends, and fight against the government and the mistreatment of people–both regular folk and the Returned.
Harold and Lucille are decently fleshed out as characters along with a few other side characters, but you don’t get much insight into how or why the Returned actually come into being–and that was a bit frustrating to me. This novel was written in the third person and jumped from character to character quite often, but it wasn’t distracting to me and actually helped give me sympathy for the characters–even when they weren’t acting so nice.
I give The Returned a four out of five. With writing that is often poetic, insightful, and spiritual, Jason Mott does a great job at showing the possibilities and “What ifs” of people returning from the dead to be with their loved ones. He does a great job of covering all the bases and reactions, and he doesn’t shy away from exploring the deep, dark, ugly places that humanity can go in times of distress and unknown conflict.
And now for the giveaway. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a copy of The Returned. Open to US/Canada Residents only–no P.O. Boxes. Courtesy of TLC Book Tours.