Akin by Emma Donoghue

"Weren't all of us bridges for each other, one way or another?"

I've been a fan of Emma Donoghue's writing from the moment I first encountered her novel Room. I breezed through that book in a day, and I've eagerly awaited each of her works since. The thing I love most about opening a Donoghue novel is that I never quite know what to expect. She seems to be one of the few authors writing today who has no problem bouncing from genre to genre. No matter where her imagination takes her, Donoghue always satisfies with deeply drawn characters, elegant prose, and a keen sense of reality that makes each book a wonder to behold. Based purely upon my enjoyment of her previous works, I happily accepted a copy of her latest novel Akin to review on behalf of her publisher.

As he approaches his eightieth birthday, Noah Selvaggio has much to be proud of. Both Noah and his late wife were acclaimed chemists and professors for years. He still resides in the couples West Side apartment in New York. Though the couple never started a family of their own, they took pride in their work and the young minds they were able to influence. In preparation for his milestone birthday, Noah has decided to take a trip to the place of his birth Nice, France. He hasn't visited the city since he fled the war at the young age of four. Armed with a collection of photos that belonged to his mother, he hopes to revisit the town of his youth and piece together the puzzle that is his family history.

Just when it seems like Noah's quest to rediscover his family's past is all set, a situation with his current family intervenes. With the passing of his sister, there is no one to look after Noah's great-nephew Michael. Michael's mother is currently incarcerated, and it looks like the only thing standing between Michael and foster care is Noah. But surely Noah can't be responsible for a child. Overcome with a sense of familial duty, Noah agrees to take temporary guardianship of the boy. The odd couple of eleven-year-old and soon to be octogenarian must find common ground as they embark on a globetrotting trip to reconnect with their shared roots.

With Akin, Donoghue finds magic in the small moments between adult and child. She perfectly captures the voices of the two drastically different generations and finds humor, emotion, and understanding through the juxtaposition of the two. I was instantly taken by the internal thoughts of Noah. For a man who has prided himself on being one of the most knowledgable people in the room, his struggle to understand the mind of a child is a unique and unfamiliar challenge. Donoghue sprinkles in some mystery surrounding the photos left to Noah by his mother that adds an extra layer of depth to the family history and gives the book just enough momentum to move it beyond just the relationship between the two characters. Superbly written and emotionally satisfying, Akin is another indisputable win from Donoghue.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2019, 31)

This entry was posted on Monday, October 14, 2019 and is filed under ,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

2 Responses to “Akin by Emma Donoghue”

  1. The relationship between the granddad and his grand nephew really does grab me and makes me want to read this book. There's so mcuh potential there for such goodness -- as you mention in your review.

    1. I may not have known what I was getting into with this one, but it was such a delight to read!


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