Reviews for Returned

Booklist Reviews 2013 May #2
*Starred Review* In this sparely written first novel, poet Mott posits intriguing questions about our uneasy relationship with death. Harold and Lucille Hargrave are stunned to find their eight-year-old son, Jacob--decades after the boy's death by drowning--standing on their front porch, along with Martin Bellamy, a government agent for the International Bureau of the Returned. All over the globe, the dead are returning to their families, causing massive confusion and a pervasive anxiety that countries will run out of room and the resources to care for the enlarging population. And the Hargrave family seems to encompass the spectrum of emotions that greet the Returned, as Lucille is overjoyed to once again cook and care for her son, despite her advanced years, while Harold is afraid of all the emotions that his son stirs up, recalling anew the anguish and grief he thought he had finally laid to rest. Mott brings a singularly eloquent voice to this elegiac novel, which not only fearlessly tackles larger questions about mortality but also insightfully captures life's simpler moments, as when a father and son earnestly discuss the finer points of how to tell a good joke. A beautiful meditation on what it means to be human. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
The world, a community and an elderly couple are confused and disconcerted when people who have died inexplicably come back, including the couple's 8-year-old son, whom they lost nearly 50 years ago. No one understands why people who died are coming back. There's no rhyme or reason, just a sudden reappearance of a massive population who were dead and are now alive, nearly exactly as they were the minute before they died. Some died a hundred years ago, some died 50 years ago; some are young children, some are senile old women and men. Considered by some the work of the devil, by others a miracle, the confounding reality is that an already struggling planet must abruptly support a staggering influx of beings who have typical human needs: food, water, shelter, sanitation. Globally, the cataclysmic event of their return brings about a spectrum of responses that reflects many facets of faith, spirituality, and the best and worst of human nature. Individually, many of the living must decide whether or not to accommodate the people they loved as they return to a world that has left them behind. Written mainly from the perspective of Lucille and Harold Hargrave—an elderly couple whose 8-year-old son, Jacob, returns to them decades after he died—and taking place in a small Southern town that becomes a regional coordination center for handling those who come back, this book offers a beautifully written and emotionally astute look at our world gone awry. At the center is a startling and disturbing idea, especially given how many of us wish we could have one more chance to see the ones we've loved and lost to death: What if many of them came back, all at once? Poet and debut author Mott has written a breathtaking novel that navigates emotional minefields with realism and grace. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 July #1

What if the dead came back to us on Earth? Would your loved one's reappearance be a blessing or a curse? All over the world, people are spontaneously rising from the dead. For Harold and Lucille Hargrave this occurrence brings the return of their son Jacob, dead 50 years. While they have aged and must relearn how to parent, Jacob is still eight years old. Lucille sees this as a miracle; the void in her life has been filled. For others, Harold included, the returned inspire nothing but confusion and fear, ultimately leading to violence. As the world explodes into chaos and neighbors turn on one another, the Hargraves find themselves fighting for their new life and discovering the ties that permanently bind us across time and space. VERDICT This is a masterly first novel for Mott, previously a published poet; it speaks to many aspects of the human condition through the Hargraves' experience, as well as short segments in the voices of returned people around the globe. Highly recommended for those who love a strong story that makes them think. It has already been optioned for television by Brad Pitt's production company. [See also John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Undead for a more horrific take on this theme.--Ed.]--Katie Lawrence, Chicago

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 March #2

In his exceptional debut novel, poet Mott brings drama, pathos, joy, horror, and redemption to a riveting tale of how the contemporary world handles the inexplicable reappearance of the dead. The primary focus is on Harold and Lucille Hargrave, who lost their son, Jacob, half a century ago in a tragic drowning accident on his eighth birthday. Amid global rumors about "the Returned," their son arrives at their doorstep--with an agent from the International Bureau of the Returned--still eight and healthy, as if nothing has changed in more than 50 years. Locals have mixed feelings when Arcadia, their small, backwater Southern town, is inundated with soldiers and taken over as a refuge for the multitude of Returned who have nowhere else to go (not every family wants them back), and Mott ratchets up the tension. Are the Returned walking, breathing miracles? Or signs of the Devil and "the end of times"? Even local Pastor Robert Peters cannot decide how to respond to these people, haunted as he is by the sudden reappearance of the love of his life, a girl who died as a teen. When some of the disgruntled locals take matters into their own hands, there is an apocalypse of sorts and both the frailty and strength of human character become evident; Mott brings depth and poignancy to the Returned and their purpose for existing. Agent: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.)

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