A “beautifully written, heartbreaking” (S. J. Watson) debut novel about a gifted boy who discovers the truth about his past, his overprotective single mother who tries desperately to shield him from it, and the father he has never met who has unexpectedly returned.
“Original, compassionate, cleverly plotted, and genuinely difficult to put down.” –Graeme Simsion, New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Project
Twelve-year-old Ethan Forsythe, an exceptionally talented boy obsessed with physics and astronomy, has been raised alone by his mother in Sydney, Australia. Claire, a former professional ballerina, has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he’s becoming increasingly curious about his father’s absence in his life. Claire is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son—and of her own feelings. But when Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event that occurred during his infancy, her tightly-held world is split open.
Thousands of miles away on the western coast of Australia, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart, but an unexpected call forces him to confront his past and return home. 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.
Told from the alternating points of view of Ethan and each of his parents, Relativity is a poetic and soul-searing exploration of unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, the limits of science, and the magnitude of love.
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.