"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.
The Returned's premise provides much food for thought, and it's a book that most readers will find themselves thinking about long after the last page is turned. That, combined with Mott's ability to bring his characters alive, makes this one well worth the reader's time. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Starred Review. In his exceptional debut novel, poet Mott brings drama, pathos, joy, horror, and redemption to a riveting tale.
Starred Review. Poet and debut author Mott has written a breathtaking novel that navigates emotional minefields with realism and grace.
Starred Review. This is a masterly first novel for Mott, previously a published poet; it speaks to many aspects of the human condition through the Hargraves' experience, as well as short segments in the voices of returned people around the globe. Highly recommended for those who love a strong story that makes them think. It has already been optioned for television by Brad Pitt's production company.
Starred Review. Mott brings a singularly eloquent voice to this elegiac novel, which not only fearlessly tackles larger questions about mortality but also insightfully captures life's simpler moments....A beautiful meditation on what it means to be human.
Douglas Preston, bestselling author of The Monster of Florence The Returned transforms a brilliant premise into an extraordinary and beautifully realized novel. My spine is still shivering from the memory of this haunting story. Wow.
Eowyn Ivey, New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Child
A wondrous surprise. With fine craftsmanship and a deep understanding of the human condition, Jason Mott has woven a tale that is in turns tragic and humorous and terrifying. Surely this will spark many a fabulous book club discussion.
Aimee Bender, New York Times bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
A deft meditation on loss that plays out levels of consequence on both personal and international stages. Mott allows the magic of his story to unearth a full range of feelings about grief and connection.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Diane S. The Returned This book is being heavily promoted and is now in production for a television series. It is a book that raises so many questions. The dead start appearing, (not a vampire or Zombie in the bunch, thank you Jason Mott) an eight year old boy who... Read More
In 2011 archeologists uncovered Neanderthal skeletons, dating back about 50,000 years, that appear to have been intentionally buried with the arms folded so the hands are close to the head. This evidence, which shows respect for the dead, has led some to extrapolate that the Neanderthals had a sense of an afterlife. Scientifically speaking, however, it is a stretch to make the case based on just this one piece of data. What we do know is that the early agricultural societies that started to develop from 10,000 BC tended to have organized religions, and around 2500 BC the Egyptians believed in an afterlife, but only for the Pharoah. Within a couple of centuries the Egyptian nobels were included in the afterlife, and by 2100 BC belief in the possibility of an afterlife was extended to all Egyptian people.
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