Gallery Books: 5/3/16
eBook review copy; 368 pages
Relativity by Antonia Hayes is a highly recommended novel featuring a gifted 12 year-old boy living in Australia.
Ethan Forsythe is gifted, a savant, in his understanding of physics and astronomy, but less keen in his understanding of interpersonal relationships. He lives with his mother, Claire, and has never met his father, who left when he was an infant. As Ethan gets older, he increasingly wonders about his father. When an event sends him to the hospital, he learns more about why his father left and his parents divorced - a secret Claire has kept.
Simultaneously, his father, Mark, is back in Sidney because his father is dying. Ethan intercepts a letter Mark drops off for Claire and makes contact with him by sending him years of father's day cards he saved after making them at school. Mark and Claire do meet, although she keeps it secret from Ethan and it is a tension filled event.
This well written debut novel tackles some timely issues. Bullying plays a pivotal role in the novel, as does the effects of an absent father and a mother keeping secrets about their past. The validity of another headline-grabbing incident is questioned, but I can't say too much, because it is an major, important plot point. The narrative is told through the alternating viewpoints of Ethan, Claire, and Mark, exploring each character and their thoughts.
The ending made this book worth the time, but getting there wasn't easy through the middle of the novel. Expect lots of discussions about physics and astronomy as well as metaphors utilizing physics. It would behoove a reader to like and understand physics and science before reading Relativity, otherwise it could become a bit too much. Additionally, all of the dialogue doesn't flow quite as smoothly as one would like. It might have helped to downshift the incessant physics discussions and focus more on propelling the plot forward. A solid 3.5 stars for me.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books for review purposes.