This review is part of the Relativity Blog Tour.
Author: Antonia Hayes
Genre: Contemporary, Family
Source: The publisher
Publisher: CORSAIR (19th January 2017)
Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.
His single mother, Claire, is fiercly protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him for ever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.
Now aged twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three of them together again.
Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
RELATIVITY by Antonia Hayes is a beautiful, poignant read. That is not to say it is a sad read, because it is not. RELATIVITY is full of life and hope. It tells the story of a twelve year-old boy who is obsessed with physics and astronomy, and of his parents. On the cusp of being a teenager, Ethan still views the world with a child’s wonder and curiosity. His mother Claire has brought him up on her own since he was small, and is fiercely protective of him. She has never told Ethan the truth of his father Mark, and why he’s no longer in their lives.
RELATIVITY is a beautiful book. The cover of my physical copy (as you can see in the picture) is absolutely gorgeous and really captures the feel of the book. The language Hayes uses in this, her debut novel, is just as beautiful. She vividly paints pictures in broad stokes with her words, making all the science dance through the narrative – some of it really quite complicated, easy to follow and understand. Science, particularly Physics, is not something I particularly relate to yet seeing it through Ethan’s eyes – with Hayes lovely descriptions – made it easy for me to see what drew him to it.
“The night sky was a gauze of symmetries and spirals, an ocean of darkness and light. Ultraviolet and infrared, filled with invisible radiation and empty vacuums. Ethan felt like he could split the yawning universe open with his eyes and see its boundless dimensions, look beyond the blueprint of space and time.” (Relativity by Antonia Hayes (Corsair, 2017), pp. 6-7)
With words Hayes weaves a vivid picture both of how Ethan views the world, and how beautiful that world is explained by science. There are dozens of such instances throughout the book.
For all the beauty of RELATIVITY, there is also a bleaker core. This is not a book for everyone. RELATIVITY deals with the consequences of SBS – shaken baby syndrome (you can find out more here and here) – on both the parents and the child involved. I mention this only because I know that there will be some people who will find the subject triggering, and therefore won’t want to read it, and I want to give them fair warning. Personally I think Hayes covers the topic sensitively, and I liked the fact that the focus of the story was on the lives of Ethan and his parents after this event. Don’t let the subject matter put you off; RELATIVITY really is at its heart about love and family.
The relationship between Ethan and his mum is brilliantly written, and I really enjoyed seeing their relationship come alive on the page. Hayes does a good job showing the love between mother and son. I also really liked the fact that Hayes split the narration of the novel between Ethan, Claire, and Mark as this allows the reader to gain an understanding of all three perspectives and characters. The ending of the book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it still somehow fitted. If you’re looking for a beautiful story from a debut novelist, that doesn’t shy from the truth then RELATIVITY is definitely a book you should be checking out. This story is definitely one that deserves to be heard.
Meet the author…
Antonia Hayes, who grew up in Sydney and spent her twenties in Paris, currently lives in London with her husband and son. Relativity is her first novel.