I was sent this book to review as part of the Little Brown blog tour. To follow the tour, read the information at the bottom of the review.
From the blurb:
Twelve-year-old Ethan Forsythe, an exceptionally talented boy obsessed with physics and astronomy, has been raised alone by his mother in Sydney, Australia. Claire, a former professional ballerina, has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he’s becoming increasingly curious about his father’s absence in his life. Claire is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son—and of her own feelings. But when Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event that occurred during his infancy, her tightly-held world is split open.
Thousands of miles away on the western coast of Australia, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart, but an unexpected call forces him to confront his past and return home. When Ethan secretly intercepts a letter from Mark to Claire, he unleashes long-suppressed forces that—like gravity—pull the three together again, testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
Told from the alternating points of view of Ethan and each of his parents, Relativity is a poetic and soul-searing exploration of unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, the limits of science, and the magnitude of love.
Claire is a former ballet dancer, divorcee and single mum. Her son Ethan is amazingly clever, obsessed with physics and a walking encyclopedia, but he has trouble relating to kids his own age.
Mark is Claire’s ex . He has been away from Sydney for a long time, and is back to visit his father who is dying of cancer. Mark’s dad asks to see his grandson before he dies. Mark knows nothing about his son, but he tries to get in touch, even though it may be too late to salvage a relationship.
Ethan isn’t having the best time; his former best friend Will calls him a freak, and the school bullies call him Stephen Hawking (as if that’s an insult!) and talk to him in a faux computer simulator voice. Ethan tries to deal with all of this as best he can, until Will reveals to his new buddies that Ethan’s dad left because of his difficulties.
When Ethan is suspended for (rightly in my opinion) standing up to the bullies, he intercepts a letter to his mum from his father, changing the course of all their lives.
This is such a sweet book. Ethan is hilarious, I can completely identify his bewilderment at being mocked at school. I was always know as Boff, Teacher’s Pet, etc.
I love that we see the story from the three different perspectives, although I’m not sure we needed the bit where Ethan is, how shall I put this, um, exploring his body (?) in the shower.
The writing is descriptive, thematically linked to space, and beautiful. The characters are engaging, and it is a sweet, heartbreaking story.
Let me know if you will be reading this book in the comments, and see below for details on the blog tour.