The returned

Jason Mott

Book - 2013

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. Now they've settled into old age, their wounds tempered through the grace of time. And then Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep -- flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old -- as all over the world, people's loved ones return from the beyond.

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Subjects
Genres
Fantasy fiction
Published
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada : Harlequin Mira 2013.
Language
English
Physical Description
338 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780778315339
0778315339
Main Author
Jason Mott (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In this sparely written first novel, poet Mott posits intriguing questions about our uneasy relationship with death. Harold and Lucille Hargrave are stunned to find their eight-year-old son, Jacob—decades after the boy's death by drowning—standing on their front porch, along with Martin Bellamy, a government agent for the International Bureau of the Returned. All over the globe, the dead are returning to their families, causing massive confusion and a pervasive anxiety that countries will run out of room and the resources to care for the enlarging population. And the Hargrave family seems to encompass the spectrum of emotions that greet the Returned, as Lucille is overjoyed to once again cook and care for her son, despite her advanced years, while Harold is afraid of all the emotions that his son stirs up, recalling anew the anguish and grief he thought he had finally laid to rest. Mott brings a singularly eloquent voice to this elegiac novel, which not only fearlessly tackles larger questions about mortality but also insightfully captures life's simpler moments, as when a father and son earnestly discuss the finer points of how to tell a good joke. A beautiful meditation on what it means to be human. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

What if the dead came back to us on Earth? Would your loved one's reappearance be a blessing or a curse? All over the world, people are spontaneously rising from the dead. For Harold and Lucille Hargrave this occurrence brings the return of their son Jacob, dead 50 years. While they have aged and must relearn how to parent, Jacob is still eight years old. Lucille sees this as a miracle; the void in her life has been filled. For others, Harold included, the returned inspire nothing but confusion and fear, ultimately leading to violence. As the world explodes into chaos and neighbors turn on one another, the Hargraves find themselves fighting for their new life and discovering the ties that permanently bind us across time and space. VERDICT This is a masterly first novel for Mott, previously a published poet; it speaks to many aspects of the human condition through the Hargraves' experience, as well as short segments in the voices of returned people around the globe. Highly recommended for those who love a strong story that makes them think. It has already been optioned for television by Brad Pitt's production company. [See also John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Undead for a more horrific take on this theme.—Ed.]—Katie Lawrence, Chicago [Page 74]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his exceptional debut novel, poet Mott brings drama, pathos, joy, horror, and redemption to a riveting tale of how the contemporary world handles the inexplicable reappearance of the dead. The primary focus is on Harold and Lucille Hargrave, who lost their son, Jacob, half a century ago in a tragic drowning accident on his eighth birthday. Amid global rumors about "the Returned," their son arrives at their doorstep—with an agent from the International Bureau of the Returned—still eight and healthy, as if nothing has changed in more than 50 years. Locals have mixed feelings when Arcadia, their small, backwater Southern town, is inundated with soldiers and taken over as a refuge for the multitude of Returned who have nowhere else to go (not every family wants them back), and Mott ratchets up the tension. Are the Returned walking, breathing miracles? Or signs of the Devil and "the end of times"? Even local Pastor Robert Peters cannot decide how to respond to these people, haunted as he is by the sudden reappearance of the love of his life, a girl who died as a teen. When some of the disgruntled locals take matters into their own hands, there is an apocalypse of sorts and both the frailty and strength of human character become evident; Mott brings depth and poignancy to the Returned and their purpose for existing. Agent: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When their son Jacob, who died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966, arrives on their doorstep, still eight years old, Harold and Lucille Hargrave must navigate a strange new reality as chaos erupts around the world as people's loved ones are returned from beyond.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

When their son Jacob, who died tragically at his 8th birthday party in 1966, arrives on their doorstep, still 8 years old, Harold and Lucille Hargrave must navigate a strange new reality as chaos erupts around the world as people's loved ones are returned from beyond.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"The Returned transforms a brilliant premise into an extraordinary and beautifully realized novel. My spine is still shivering from the memory of this haunting story. Wow." - Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of The Monster of FlorenceFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Hell of a Book, a sensational novel about an impossible miracle and a family given a second chance at life'Harold and Lucille Hargrave's eight-year-old son, Jacob, died tragically in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him'. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep'flesh and blood, still eight years old.All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. But as chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality.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.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From the author of Hell of a Book, a READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK and a winner of The National Book Award.

"The Returned transforms a brilliant premise into an extraordinary and beautifully realized novel. My spine is still shivering from the memory of this haunting story. Wow." - Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of The Monster of Florence

From the New York Times bestselling author of Hell of a Book, a sensational novel about an impossible miracle and a family given a second chance at life…


Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s eight-year-old son, Jacob, died tragically in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. But as chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality.

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.