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.
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.