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. (from Netgalley)
This is a story about people returning from the dead and how the world reacts. The people who return are exactly as they were upon their deaths - the same age, the same personalities, the same health issues - the same everything. Many of the returned make their reappearance far from home and through the kindness of others, are presented back to their families. Some of the returned are never reconnected with loved ones, sometimes showing up in a foreign land, just as confused as the people who find them.
As the result of this phenomenon, the government creates The International Bureau of the Returned, who proceed to muck things up pretty good. As with many chaotic situations, there are the good guys and the bad guys. In this, book one, we see how people take sides and lives are changed forever.
I really liked two of the main characters, Harold and Lucille. They have the wit and wisdom of old age, often using humor as they struggle to come to terms with the return of their deceased son. Their reaction felt real and brought to mind many of the same questions. How would I feel if a loved one returned from the dead? Would I be happy or afraid? Accepting or wary?
Mr. Mott has presented a very interesting premise and I am very curious to see where he takes this story in future books.
I would like to thank Harlequin, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.
Publish date: August 27, 2013.