A Retired New York Professor S Life Is Thrown Into Chaos When He Takes A Young Great Nephew To The French Riviera, In Hopes Of Uncovering His Own Mother S Wartime Secrets In The Next Masterpiece From New York Times Bestselling Author Emma DonoghueNoah Selvaggio Is A Retired Chemistry Professor And Widower Living On The Upper West Side, But Born In The South Of France He Is Days Away From His First Visit Back To Nice Since He Was A Child, Bringing With Him A Handful Of Puzzling Photos He S Discovered From His Mother S Wartime Years But He Receives A Call From Social Services Noah Is The Closest Available Relative Of An Eleven Year Old Great Nephew He S Never Met, Who Urgently Needs Someone To Look After Him Out Of A Feeling Of Obligation, Noah Agrees To Take Michael Along On His Trip Much Has Changed In This Famously Charming Seaside Mecca, Still Haunted By Memories Of The Nazi Occupation The Unlikely Duo, Suffering From Jet Lag And Culture Shock, Bicker About Everything From Steak Frites To Screen Time But Noah Gradually Comes To Appreciate The Boy S Truculent Wit, And Michael S Ease With Tech And Sharp Eye Help Noah Unearth Troubling Details About Their Family S Past Both Come To Grasp The Risks People In All Eras Have Run For Their Loved Ones, And Find They Are Akin Than They KnewWritten With All The Tenderness And Psychological Intensity That Made Room An International Bestseller, Akin Is A Funny, Heart Wrenching Tale Of An Old Man And A Boy, Born Two Generations Apart, Who Unpick Their Painful Story And Start To Write A New One Together I ve enjoyed everything by Emma Donoghue that I ve read, so there was no doubting I was going to miss out on this With the frequency of grandparents taking care of grandkids because the parents are dead or incarcerated, it s just a slight stretch that a great uncle would get the call Noah, a 79 year old professor, gets just that request right before he s due to visit Nice, his place of birth and a place he hasn t seen since leaving when he was four As someone who s not a natural with kids, I immediately bonded with Noah Donoghue totally gets that fight to keep some level of communication going and what a struggle it is, especially when things we take for granted grammar, history are total unknowns to the youngster Noah s efforts to explain an adverb vs an adjective could have been lifted from my life And the generational divide overrides every socio economic difference, especially when it comes to an addiction to electronics The kid was looking at his phone again Ah, back to the screen You talk a lot dude, Michael murmured without looking up There s a mystery to solve as well Noah has snapshots his mother took during the war But they re such odd photos, he s not sure what where who they involve While in Nice, he attempts to solve the puzzle I loved this book Between the characters, the mystery and the beautiful writing,I was entranced I loved how even throw away lines rang so true They climbed the steps, Noah s hip speaking to him Tourism was such an odd mixture of the tiring and the hedonistic And how photography was a constant theme throughout the book My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown for an advance copy of this book. Emma Donoghue is a mesmerizing writer who is not afraid to take chances When reading her previous books Room, for example, or The Wonder I did not come up for air So my first reaction on her latest book was a bit of disappointment A retired New York professor s life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young grand nephew to France in hopes of uncovering his own mother s secrets from World War II Really Hadn t I read the old man young boy child is father to the man story many times already Domenico Starnone s Ties, to name just one And World War II isn t that inevitably going to mean another book about Nazi collaborators Well, I needn t have worried This is, after all, Emma Donoghue And even though it s not quite as ambitious as her previous work, it s a fascinating, page turning, turn the formula on its head sort of read.Why is it so good For one thing, Noah, the chemistry professor on the cusp of his 80th birthday and Michael, the 11 year old boy whose father is dead and whose mother is incarcerated, are about as authentic as it gets All the jargon all the innocence combined with pretend disinterest and jadedness all the wheedling and foul mouth bravado it s all here in Michael, who can, in turn, be defiant, endearing, and downright exhausting Noah s attempts to bridge the communication gap and try to earn a bit of the boy s respects are also touching But Emma Donoghue never resorts to manipulative sentimentality or tired tropes Noah and Michael can step off the pages.Also, a third important character in the book is the French city of Nice The author spent a few years there with her wife and children and her familiarity with Nice shows The Carnival, the museums, the food Michael s reactions to unfamiliar French food is hilariously real , the back history all of it adds another dimension to his already intriguing tale.I haven t said much about the plot because that s for readers to discover for themselves Suffice to say that it hinges on some mystifying photos that Noah s vanished mother took during the war years His logical powers of deduction clash and eventually merge with Michael s imaginative mind as answers begin to reveal themselves All in all, a very satisfying book 4.5 stars Thanks to LittleBrown for an advance copy of one of my favorite writer s work in exchange for an honest review EmmaDonoghue Akin Akin adjective1 of kin related by blood2 allied by nature having the same properties3 having or showing an affinity kindredEmma Donoghue has quite the writer s chops She can do a stylistic, tragicomic period piece, like FROG MUSIC, or a boldly dramatic story, such as ROOM You can t fit her into a niche And whatever she writes, her characters are fully formed and could leap magnificently off the pages AKIN is no different in that way, a witty but poignant contemporary story with an old man and young boy at the center, thrown together by life s tragic circumstances Donoghue plays with the different definitions of the eponymous title, but with levity and nuance Yes, this is a tender, warm, affectionate and sometimes brutal narrative about the bonds of kin and some chemical bonds, too , as well as how history inches ever close to the present, and time rolls forward as it reaches back The future was urgent than the past, even if the two were entangled Noah Selvaggio, an almost eighty year old retired chemistry professor and childless widow, is about to embark on a weeklong trip to Nice, France, his birthplace He left when he was four, delivered from his mother to his father in NYC he s never been back, and has made this city his home His memories of early childhood on the French Riviera are foggy This was the time when Germany had already invaded France He has nine old photos from that era, saved by his now dead sister His grandfather, P re Sonne, was a celebrated French photographer, and Margot, Noah s mother, was the famous photographer s primary assistant But these photos were slipshod, unframed, and didn t bear Sonne s stamp How to put them into context In the meantime, Noah is entrusted with the care of his eleven year old great nephew, Michael, who he d never met before Michael s father Noah s nephew had died of a drug overdose, and his mother, Amber, was serving a few years in prison Child Services had found Noah, and asked him to care for Michael for a few weeks until another relative came through to take Michael in If Noah didn t agree to care for Michael, he would be sent to foster care Michael would have to accompany Noah to Nice, in lieu of canceling the trip He was a wily, obstreperous boy, frequently disrespectful but observant, who had lived his life with few advantages The two of them were like a fraught chemical reaction, or oil and water, but Noah understood that Michael had suffered trauma, and agreed to his short term care After all, what s a few weeks with a snarly, surly, screen addicted, impulsive kid He could at least try to teach him some manners Weren t all of us bridges for another, one way or another A lesser author would have made me groan I figured out much of the general arc fairly quickly, but it was the relationship between Noah and Michael that lifted this novel to a resonant pitch What does an old, highly educated, and mournful man and a damaged, underprivileged young boy have in common The Noah tries to bond, the deeper Michael s disinterest With a handful of antique photos and their wobbly, separate grief the final death of hope can the blood between them find a pathway to mutual regard He and this boy were quite alien to each other Yet, in an odd way, akin Donoghue took what could have been a derivative, ham handed story and turned it into a charismatic, organic, and robust tale of memories, time, and the chemistry of alien relations It is a genuine winner, surpassing my initial cynicism and Michael s I walked those steps in Nice with them, watched the Carnival and the circus, and explored he meaning of those photos Moreover, I pondered Michael s plight, his parents past, and what s to come in the future 4.5 rounded upThank you to LittleBrown for this ARC in exchange for an honest review EmmaDonoghue Akin What appeared at first to be a story of an old man and a young boy foisted upon each other for a trip abroad for a week, finding they had things to learn from each other in the way of such stories, turned out to be so much This element is certainly there and the two characters are spot on, their interaction plays out realistically and I enjoyed their banter, but the author also introduces a little mystery as Noah seeks answers to his mother s war years in France The city of Nice is an essential player in this as we come to understand its history during the occupation of the 1940s Noah s mother s experience echoes down the ages to his grand nephew s fractured family in 21st century New York Written with sensitivity and insight, their stories melded in a way that had me hoping for a happy outcome for all concerned A really satisfying read, I have no hesitation recommending it.With thanks to Pan Macmillan Picador via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC. I was really excited to read Donoghue s new book Akin, but I m kind of disappointed Noah is a 79 year old retired scientist, who s about to visit Nice, his birth place after so many years Suddenly, he learns that he s next of kin for Michael 11 years old , who s his great nephew His father died, and mother is in jail with noone to take care of him So, they have to start a forced relationship and travel to Nice together Michael isn t a child friendly person with no child of his own, and Michael is kind of a rebel boy In many ways, it reminded me of About A Boy The relationship between these two is intersting to read, it s well written and all Also, a mystery is introduced to the story in Nice from related to WW2 times Probably, the biggest reason I feel this book didn t work is, it s very unoriginal This concept has been handled several times I m really surprised that Emma Donoghue, the writer of many original concepts would choose to go for a simple story like this with a quite dull plot The feeling I had when I was reading this book was been there, done that So, it wasn t for me.But, if you like war mysteries, or the relationship between Michael and Noah is something that attracts you, it might be for you. Noah, a retired professor who is about to turn 80, is planning a trip to Nice, France, where he lived as a young child during the war Right before his departure, he s contacted by a social worker who says he s the only living relative who can take charge of Michael, his late nephew s son Michael s mother is in prison and his grandmother has recently died Noah winds up taking the boy to France with him, and the kid is so incredibly obnoxious sometimes it was hard to keep reading But Donogue is an excellent writer, and she pulls the reader in with Noah s speculation of what his mother was doing in Nice during the war was she a collaborator or working with the Resistance Akin, by Emma DonoghueI have decided that Emma Donoghue is a writer I will always read I love this book so muchthe main character is Noah, a childless widower, who is turning 80 in a week After the recent death of his sister, Noah has decided to spend his sisters bequest by his visiting his birthplace, Nice, France Right before he is to leave on his trip, he is approached by Child Services to take in his deceased nephews eleven year old son The boys mother is in prison, his maternal grandmother who was caring for him has just died, and Noah is the only relative they are able to reach If Noah doesn t agree to take Micheal, he will end up in Foster Care So off the two of them go to Nice It doesn t sound like a terrible interesting premise, but I loved the characters And there is also the mystery of Noah s mother, whom he fears was collaborating with the Germans during WW2 Noah had been sent to the states by his mother when he was a toddler She decided to stay behind to care for her ailing father, a famous French photographer Noah s father had already gone ahead to the US to run an art gallery and sell the Grandfathers work Donoghue couches her tale with the background of the Marcel Network which saved 527 Jewish children from the Nazi extermination camps I found this book profoundly moving and a deeply satisfying read Readers may not care for Michael s character, but as a parent, I think the child s grief and behavior rings true to his circumstances Highly recommended. For those of us that have read ROOM, there is no doubt that Donoghue can write beautifully about the relationship between a mother and child, but this book takes her writing to a new and beautiful level, exploring the relationship between an elderly man and his great nephew The two are thrown together when a desperate social worker searches for someone to serve as a guardian for the 11 year old rather than placing him in the foster care system Noah, a lonely, childless widower has been looking forward to spending his 80th birthday in Nice, where he was born, and trying to understand his own history Despite his doubts, he rises admirably to the challenge and takes Michael with him on his journey This remarkable pair don t find It easy to travel together, since they essentially are connected only by Michael s dead father, the troubled son of Noah s sister The writing is so vivid that I felt as if I knew the two, and chuckled as they made their way around Nice and each other Within their story is Noah s search for the truth about his mother, some mysterious photos and her role in WW II Despite their difference in age, background and culture, they are a delightful team of sleuths Their struggles during this trip are fine fodder for a remarkable and beautiful love story As the grandmother of a child Michael s age, I felt that Donoghue captured this difficult and eccentric pre adolescent period very well I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to delight in this book and urge all my book clubs to read it It is also an excellent book for my students who are going into teaching. it is a rich and warm story, which reminds us of the role of older adults in the lives of children. This woman s WRITING Full stop DELIGHTFUL.Her words are perfectly chosen light, beautiful, unexpected, and deeply moving Not one word wasted I loved diving into the world of 80 year old Noah and his great nephew This is gonna be a big book Loved every word I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley early copy of this one Donoghue understands adult child relationships so well, and there is so much shine and grit bound together, it felt like reading nonfiction.If you re on the fence, lean towards picking it up and be prepared for the immersive world of Nice, France, and the complicated, beautiful relationship between Noah and Michael. Noah Selavaggio will soon be turning 80 years old In celebration of this milestone birthday, he s making plans to visit Nice where he was born He s discovered some old photos taken by his mother that are quite puzzling and he hopes to find some answers in Nice However, just days before he leaves, he receives a phone call from a social worker asking that he temporarily take care of an 11 year old boy, Michael, who is his great nephew Noah has never met Michael but he s the closet relative the boy has other than his mother who is in prison and his aunt whom they re having trouble reaching Noah well remembers Michael s father, Vincent, and feels obligated to take Michael along with him to Nice.This book is on quite a different level than the other Emma Donoghue books that I ve read There s a lot humor in this one and I enjoyed the witty sparring between this unlikely pair Michael is very foul mouthed and can be quite obnoxious but knowing the life he s led, his character is very believable I admired the patience Noah shows Michael but then again Noah also knows about loss He still has long talks with his deceased wife Both of these characters are brought to life with compassion and understanding Noah s mother s photos lead them on a hunt for the truth that is quite a heart wrenching one and made the book quite compelling Could it be that Noah s beloved mother was a Nazi collaborator Recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
- 352 pages
- Emma Donoghue
- 19 December 2019 Emma Donoghue