I received Relativity from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
So far, 2017 seems to be shaping up to be a great year for Australian authors! This stunning debut follows single mother Claire, her gifted son Ethan, and Ethan’s estranged father, Mark. Combining themes of physics, medicine and the intimate relationships between a husband and wife and a parent and child, all against the vibrant backdrop of city life in Sydney, Antonia Hayes has produced a gem of a novel which took me completely by surprise.
I received this book as part of the blog tour and, while I was grateful to have been sent a copy, I have to admit I took a while to get around to reading it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – I think with a story like this you have to connect with the characters. If you don’t, an engaging plot could be wasted. I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here – this book has it all, but it’s the characters that truly set it apart.
Ethan is an exceptional young boy. He has trouble fitting in at school, but a close relationship with his mother Claire, the only parent he has grown up with. But when Ethan is twelve, a chain of events is sparked which means he and his mother must come face to face with their past. Events in their past meant that Claire and Ethan haven’t had contact with Ethan’s dad, Mark, for years, but Mark is back in the city of Sydney and that’s all about to change.
This book is beautifully written. The author uses all manner of metaphors drawing on physics and astronomy, but it never detracts from the story. Most of the time it felt perfectly apt – and that’s coming from a complete science-phobe. There’s something about drawing upon the sheer enormity of time and space which can give a story a different perspective, and it works perfectly here.
Ethan was one of my favourite characters I’ve read in a while. He’s a perfect contradiction – intelligent well beyond his years, a genius even, and yet he still has the naive and curious nature of a child, and still desperately yearns for his parents’ love and acceptance. His voice was brilliantly written, offering a jaded reader a fresh view on the world.
This book does tackle some tough issues, and it’s hard going at time. It explores how a seemingly rash, spur-of-the-moment action could have life-altering ramifications, and it makes for sobering reading. It made me think. But the sadness in this book is definitely balanced out by the strength of the relationships, particularly that between Ethan and Claire which was truly heartwarming. Relativity is a book with something a little different to offer, and it’s a story I won’t forget any time soon.