Ethan is a bright young boy obsessed with physics and astronomy who lives with his mother, Claire. Claire has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he's becoming increasingly curious about his father's absence in his life, wanting to fill in the gaps.
Claire's life is centred on Ethan; she is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son, and of her own feelings. When Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event from when he was a baby, Claire's tightly held world is split open.
On the other side of the country, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart. Then a sudden and unexpected call home forces him to confront his past, and the hole in his life that was once filled with his wife Claire and his son Ethan.
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.
Heart-wrenching, absorbing and magical, Relativity is an irresistible novel about science, love, unbreakable bonds and irreversible acts.
'The race towards the conclusion keeps us guessing, but ultimately, it's the beautifully drawn characters who stay with you long after the final page.' Australian Women's Weekly
'Hayes has packed a complex story into compelling fiction and Relativity is proof that her star is only beginning to burn.' Sydney Morning Herald
'Relativity is wonderful, a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel.' SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep and Second Life
'A transcendental book that mangers to stay grounded and true in its warmth and pathos.' Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gem and Laurinda
'Pulls you into the moment like you've unexpectedly pin-dropped through Antarctic ice . . . Relativity upends expectations and holds you in its thrall as Hayes asks unsettling questions about the frailties of memory and love . . . An Australian debut not to be missed.' Readings Monthly
'Books like this don't come along that often. Grabit with both hands.' Marie Claire
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We cared so much about the two main characters of this heart-rending novel that it was hard to step away from their story. Twelve-year-old Ethan worships Stephen Hawking and is bullied mercilessly, even by his former best friend. Ethan's mom, Claire, adores her brilliant son, and tries to protect him from heartbreak when his absent father, Mark, returns to Sydney unexpectedly. In Australian author Antonia Hayes’s debut, the characters explode off the page like meteors, bright, imperfect and awe-inspiring. Grief, cruelty, forgiveness and love—Relativity’s grand themes remind us of our shared humanity.
Twelve-year-old Ethan is extraordinary: he's always been bright and curious, idolizing Stephen Hawking and easily able to rattle off facts about the stars and planets. No one recognized the extent of his unusual genius, however, until the wake of an unexpected seizure, when he reveals to his neurologist the uncanny ability to accurately visualize various phenomena of physics, including redshift and black holes. This discovery coincides with the return to Sydney of Ethan's dad, who's been absent from the family since a tragic incident in Ethan's infancy that nearly killed Ethan and resulted in the end of his parents' marriage. That same incident, however, may have resulted in Ethan's exceptional talents, leading Ethan's parents to wonder whether this silver lining might hint at other opportunities for redemption and reconciliation. At times, layers of imagery are piled on a little too thickly. But the author's willingness to engage with ethical and interpersonal complexities and her resistance to too-easy resolutions overcome occasional weaknesses in the prose. With its thoughtful consideration of family dynamics and its strong thematic currents, Hayes's excellent debut will appeal to fans of JoJo Moyes.
What a lovely, well written story. I did not want to put it down. Can't believe it is HAYES first book - can't wait to read more 😄
Read in one sitting. Made me cry!
I inhaled this moving and original story in a single day. The characters will stay with me for a long time. Best book of the year!