Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.
His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever 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 age 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 together again.
Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
I don’t really know what I expected of this book. I thought it would just be about weird family relationships but it wasn’t. This book is about child abuse, denial, disability and forgiveness. There were little twists that I really didn’t expect and this was a book I probably wouldn’t have read were it not for this tour but I’m glad I did.
I liked reading from the perspective of Ethan the most, he had such a wonderful insight to life. He thought so much about physics and more often than not it didn’t make much sense to me, but that’s the beauty of it, you can see how smart he really is. As Ethan apparently suffered from shaken baby syndrome I think he’s considered to be disabled as he has brain scarring, but I’m not in a position to decide whether that is the case. It was refreshing to read from his perspective as he was so smart but so naive. I would also like to say here if any of my wording in this review surrounding Ethan’s neurodiversity is offensive or incorrect or anything please let me know!
Mark wasn’t an inherently bad person, he made a mistake but Hayes was very clear in her wish for the reader to not just rule him out as an abuser. Of course I’m not dismissing what Mark did, of course you shouldn’t shake a baby but there’s often so much more to it than straight neglect.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Claire, she was really indecisive and annoying. Her actions provided the reader with and idea on how important it is to not hide things from your children. Of course little white lies are ok now and then, but to hide so much about your past and your child’s past is just a bit irresponsible in my mind. Children are much more intelligent than adults often give them credit for.
My biggest problem with this book was that it was really slow, there wasn’t a huge point where it picked up. That’s fine when it comes to novels like this but at the beginning it did feel like a chore to pick up. Once I got used to the characters the speed was ok but I’m used to a faster paced novel and this slowed me right down.
It was nice to read this book set in Sydney after I just came home from visiting Australia. I went to some of the locations mentioned and it gave me a nice little throwback.
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.
Thank you to Clara Diaz for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour!