"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.
HAROLD OPENED THE door that day to find a dark-skinned man in a well-cut suit smiling at him. At first he thought of reaching for his shotgun, but then he remembered that Lucille had made him sell it years ago on account of an incident involving a traveling preacher and an argument having to do with hunting dogs.
"Can I help you?" Harold said, squinting in the sunlightlight which only made the dark-skinned man in the suit look darker.
"Mr. Hargrave?" the man said.
"I suppose," Harold replied.
"Who is it, Harold?" Lucille called. She was in the living room being vexed by the television. The news announcer was talking about Edmund Blithe, the first of the Returned, and how his life had changed now that he was alive again.
"Better the second time around?" the announcer on the television asked, speaking directly into the camera, laying the burden of answering squarely on the shoulders of his viewers.
The wind rustled through the oak tree in the yard near the ...
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).
Full Review (1259 words).
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 Pharaoh. Within a couple of centuries the Egyptian nobels were included in the afterlife, and by 2100 BC belief in the...
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