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.
What if the dead came back to life? Returning as they once were, the same age as when they died, magically appearing? Quite a question Mott presents to readers. Excited by the premise I could not wait to dive into The Returned.
Mott did a wonderful job creating a scenario leaving so many questions unanswered as well as questions not asked. Much was left in the air leaving the reader potentially frustrated but it’s all explained in Mott’s afterward. I exercised patience and went with the flow, figuring it would all fall together at some point and I was correct. The narrative was rather genius, posing a question that’s crossed my mind once or twice and its probably crossed your mind as well. I found my answer to the question changing several times as I read the story, even days later after the last page was turned my feelings towards my final answer wavered drastically.
The Returned is more than a story of the dead returning to life, it’s about faith, love and family. It’s about fear and not understanding. This novel is about so much no doubt each reader will discover something different as the various scenes and circumstances play out.
The narrative alternates between the ‘True Living’ and the ‘Returned,’ making for interesting points of view, not to mention learning each persons history.
I adored the main protagonists – Lucille is a damn good woman with endless love for her family. The woman has moxie and courage you wouldn’t believe. Harold is cantankerous possessing such a tender heart, compassionate and a true family man. Young Jacob, imagine what this little boy must be struggling to understand along with the other Returned. Fred – I understood where he was coming from, although I didn’t agree with his methods. All his pent up anger, frustration festering when a beloved Returned failed to reemerge in his life, heartbreaking.
Mott created a brilliant thought provoking novel. The Returned would be a fantastic read for a book club/group – discussions would be unlimited and engaging. A great story making the reader reflect on the ‘what if’ idea/question that’s crossed everyone’s mind at least once. Read this interesting novel and tell me how you would respond to the question conferred.
“Some folks locked the doors of their hearts when they lost someone. Others kept the doors and the windows open, letting memory and love pass through freely. And maybe that was the way it was supposed to be, Harold thought.”