The Returned

The Returned by - Jason Mott  340 pages
ARC from Harlequin MIRA
Book Blurb:
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.
My Review: 2 stars
I had such high hopes for this book as the premise was a remarkable idea.  Sadly, I found the main protagonists quite flat with little depth while the vignettes the author interspersed throughout the book, offered the only excitement and interest for me. For example the Nazi soldiers coming back from the dead or the artist who finds his works to be worth something posthumously; those were deeper and more meaningful moments than the main plot of Harold and Lucille. The author is a poet by trade and this is his first novel so perhaps that has something to do with why those short sections work so well.
This book does have a strong theme of bigotry and/0r racism running through it as there are groups both for and against The Returned as well as a government bureau that is completely overwhelmed and powerless. Religion vs. science are dappled into but I would’ve thought that would be a more paramount theme.
I’ve read that there is a battle for the movie rights as well as a TV series being made from this book. Based on the vignettes, I could easily see a deeply emotional, humanity driven TV show that would be quite successful. After all, to have those that are lost to us be returned, even for just a short time, is a wish among many.

Quotes I liked:
- “But isn’t that the way it is with memory? Give it enough time and it will become worn down and covered in a patina of self-serving omissions.”

- “Without a doubt, Lucille thought, nut jobbery was afoot.”

- “Rage against the world and the world remains.”

- “His mother always knew what to say. words were her method of magic-words and dreams.”

- “Maybe that’s the way it was for everyone. Some folks locked the doors of their hearts when they lost someone. Others kept the doors and the windows open, letting memory and love pass through freely. And maybe that was the way it was supposed to be, Harold thought.”
- Tags: 2013, Fiction, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy

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