Cover image for Relativity
Hayes, Antonia, author.
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Publication Information:
New York City : Gallery Books, 2016.
Physical Description:
362 pages ; 24 cm
"In the vein of Jodi Picoult's House Rules and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, a debut novel about an exceptionally gifted boy who discovers the truth about his past, his overprotective single mother who tries desperately to shield him from it, and the father he has never met who is trying to come back into his life"--

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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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"Original, compassionate, cleverly plotted, and genuinely difficult to put down." -Graeme Simsion, New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Project

A "beautifully written, heartbreaking" (S. J. Watson) debut novel about a gifted boy who discovers the truth about his past, his overprotective single mother who tries desperately to shield him from it, and the father he has never met who has unexpectedly returned.

Twelve-year-old Ethan Forsythe, an exceptionally talented boy obsessed with physics and astronomy, has been raised alone by his mother in Sydney, Australia. Claire, a former professional ballerina, has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he's becoming increasingly curious about his father's absence in his life. Claire is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son--and of her own feelings. But when Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event that occurred during his infancy, her tightly-held world is split open.

Thousands of miles away on the western coast of Australia, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart, but an unexpected call forces him to confront his past and return home. When Ethan secretly intercepts a letter from Mark to Claire, he unleashes long-suppressed forces that--like gravity--pull the three together again, testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

Told from the alternating points of view of Ethan and each of his parents, Relativity is a poetic and soul-searing exploration of unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, the limits of science, and the magnitude of love.

Author Notes

Antonia Hayes was born in 1982 and grew up in Sydney, Australia. Her work has been published in Best Australian Essays 2014, Meanjin, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Daily Life and others. Antonia has worked in publishing as a publicist and a bookseller, and co-directed Australia's National Young Writers' Festival. Relativity is her debut novel.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Fascinated with physics and astronomy, 12-year-old Ethan is preternaturally intelligent, a genius, really, with it is believed the ability to see physics; i.e., he can actually see such things as sound waves and electromagnetic fields. His doctor hypothesizes that his remarkable abilities are the result of damage to his brain stemming from shaken baby syndrome perpetrated by his father, Mark. Though claiming innocence, the man was sent to prison for four years and has been completely absent from his son's life since, but circumstances have conspired to bring the two together. What will happen now that son and father are in each other's orbit? Will emotional magnetism keep them together, or will they be split apart once again? Things come to a head when the boy attempts to build a time machine with near-disastrous results. With an ingenious premise, this cleverly plotted, well-executed novel, set in Australia, dramatically examines a family in extremis and contemplates how the past can poison the present with devastating effect until the antidote, love, appears.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2016 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Twelve-year-old Ethan is extraordinary: he's always been bright and curious, idolizing Stephen Hawking and easily able to rattle off facts about the stars and planets. No one recognized the extent of his unusual genius, however, until the wake of an unexpected seizure, when he reveals to his neurologist the uncanny ability to accurately visualize various phenomena of physics, including redshift and black holes. This discovery coincides with the return to Sydney of Ethan's dad, who's been absent from the family since a tragic incident in Ethan's infancy that nearly killed Ethan and resulted in the end of his parents' marriage. That same incident, however, may have resulted in Ethan's exceptional talents, leading Ethan's parents to wonder whether this silver lining might hint at other opportunities for redemption and reconciliation. At times, layers of imagery are piled on a little too thickly. But the author's willingness to engage with ethical and interpersonal complexities and her resistance to too-easy resolutions overcome occasional weaknesses in the prose. With its thoughtful consideration of family dynamics and its strong thematic currents, Hayes's excellent debut will appeal to fans of JoJo Moyes. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Twelve-year-old Ethan Forsythe sees wavelengths, electricity, and prisms wherever he goes. His mother, Claire, has always known that he was special. When Ethan ends up in the hospital after brawling with his former best friend, the world she has carefully crafted for her son shatters as doctors discover the magnitude of his intelligence. Ethan's long-lost father Mark returns to town and soon Claire and Ethan must grapple with the tragic event that shadowed Ethan's infancy and resulted in his purported genius. As the truth is unraveled one piece at a time, Ethan's love and forgiveness knows no bounds. But will it be enough to reunite his family? This title paints a realistic picture of a single mistake derailing a lifetime. VERDICT Debut novelist Hayes just might become a staple on the popular fiction scene. With a heart-wrenching plot and a style reminiscent of Jodi Picoult, this is an excellent read with deep characterization and powerful imagery. Not recommended for those disturbed by destructive themes.--Chelsie Harris, San Diego Cty. Lib. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.