Book Reviews / Books

Review: The Returned – Jason Mott

08.03.13

The Returned

In the author’s note at the end of The Returned, the debut novel by American writer Jason Mott, he speaks of what it was that inspired his tale of life after death. Twelve years after his mother died, he had a vivid dream in which he came home from work, and his mother was there, waiting for him. He later discussed the dream with a friend, who then asked Jason what he would do if his mother came back for just one night;and what would happen if the same thing happened to others all. It was after this conversation that The Returned was born.

What follows is a tale that explores themes of morality, grief and life after death as it tells the story of Lucille and Harold Hargreaves whose eight-year-old son Jacob turns up fifty years after his death, exactly as he was on the day he died. In the midst of a phenomenon that is happening the world over; neither of them can decide whether it’s a miracle or a second chance at family life and opinion is divided in the small town in which they live as to what should be done with the ‘returned’.

With a captivating cast of characters and a thought-provoking plot, The Returned is a poignant read that makes the reader question what they would do were a loved one to return from beyond the grave. A beautiful debut from Jason Mott whose unique style of story-telling will no doubt cement him as one of the most impressive writers around.

About The Returned

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.

About Jason Mott

Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various journals such as Prick of the Spindle, The Thomas Wolfe Review, The Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Measure and Chautauqua. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award and Entertainment Weekly listed him as one of their 10 “New Hollywood: Next Wave” people to watch.

He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…” The Returned is his first novel.

The Returned has been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air in March, 2014 on the ABC network under the title “Resurrection.”

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