Generally, I judge the strength of a book by a combination of how difficult it is to put down and how much effort it takes to slow down and let myself sink into the story and the language. It’s a difficult balance, after all, setting a reading pace when you can’t wait to see what happens next but you don’t want the story to end.
Antonia Hayes debut novel “Relativity” scores a ten on both specs. Beautiful language, a few twists and turns, it is an emotional, compassionate and carefully crafted look at familial relationships, the lengths we go to protect someone from hurt and disappointment, and forgiveness (the seeking and the granting).
It’s also a difficult book to review without giving away too much.
Ethan Forsythe is a gifted twelve-year old with a love of physics. He has been raised alone by his mother, Claire, in Sydney. He is estranged from his father, Mark, who lives on the other side of Australia. While his curiosity about his father’s absence is growing, his mother is fiercely protective of him, and we discover why bit by bit as the story progresses.
The story is told from the switching perspectives of Ethan, Claire and Mark. The impending death of Mark’s father brings him back to Sydney and incites the need for a reunion of sorts with Ethan, but Claire is strongly against it. An incident at school brings Ethan’s special abilities to light (he can see the effects of physics – waves, light, and sound -) and the HOW of these abilities might bring to light a secret Claire has been keeping for years.
The evolving relationships between the characters is delicately done. Ethan’s attempt to build a time machine reminds us that, despite his gifted-ness and his surprisingly deep grasp of physics concepts, he is still a twelve-year old boy. The pain, the disappointment…it seeps into your heart as much as the feelings of love and regret.
Fans of Liane Moriarty and Kristen Hannah will enjoy this book. This is a tale that you won’t likely forget once you put it down – when you are finally able to put it down, that is.
Relativity by Antonia Hayes is published by Simon & Schuster Gallery books and is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million and at independent bookstores. You can find Antonia Hayes online at her website http://antoniahayes.com.
I was provided an advanced reader copy by NetGalley and Gallery books. All thoughts, opinions and typos herein are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which help to keep me in coffee and…well, coffee.