The Returned by Jason Mott
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
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.
Before I'd read a word of this book I was excited by the premise. People returning from the dead? Crazy, right? Now, zombies and such aren't my usual bookish milieu, to put it mildly. But this? This was a whole different kind of tale.
I thought this was such a beautifully sad story. It broke and warmed my heart in equal measure. There were times I was angry. There were times I wanted to weep.
Most importantly, this book made me think. I couldn't help but wonder about what the world would be like if these events actually happened. On a personal level I couldn't stop thinking about who I would want to come back, if only for one more day. I've been chewing on these questions ever since.
Jason Mott shows just how marvelously complicated and fragile human beings really are. The Returned isn't a book I'll soon forget.
For more thoughts (and a different opinion) on The Returned please see this review from Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall.