Akin
A retired New York professor's life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother's wartime secrets in the next masterpiece from New York Times bestselling author Emma Donoghue. Noah Selvaggio is a retired chemistry professor and widower living on the Upper West Side, but born in the South of France. He is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child, bringing with him a handful of puzzling photos he's discovered from his mother's wartime years. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he's never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him. Out of a feeling of obligation, Noah agrees to take Michael along on his trip. Much has changed in this famously charming seaside mecca, still haunted by memories of the Nazi occupation. The unlikely duo, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, bicker about everything from steak frites to screen time. But Noah gradually comes to appreciate the boy's truculent wit, and Michael's ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family's past. Both come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew.Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room an international bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy, born two generations apart, who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together.

Akin Details

TitleAkin
Author
ReleaseSep 10th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN-139780316491990
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Akin Review

  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve enjoyed everything by Emma Donoghue that I’ve read, so there was no doubting I was going to miss out on this. With the frequency of grandparents taking care of grandkids because the parents are dead or incarcerated, it’s just a slight stretch that a great uncle would get the call. Noah, a 79 year old professor, gets just that request right before he’s due to visit Nice, his place of birth and a place he hasn’t seen since leaving when he was four. As someone who’s not a natural with kids, I I’ve enjoyed everything by Emma Donoghue that I’ve read, so there was no doubting I was going to miss out on this. With the frequency of grandparents taking care of grandkids because the parents are dead or incarcerated, it’s just a slight stretch that a great uncle would get the call. Noah, a 79 year old professor, gets just that request right before he’s due to visit Nice, his place of birth and a place he hasn’t seen since leaving when he was four. As someone who’s not a natural with kids, I immediately bonded with Noah. Donoghue totally gets that fight to keep some level of communication going and what a struggle it is, especially when things we take for granted (grammar, history) are total unknowns to the youngster. Noah’s efforts to explain an adverb vs. an adjective could have been lifted from my life! And the generational divide overrides every socio-economic difference, especially when it comes to an addiction to electronics. The kid was looking at his phone again. “Ah, back to the screen.”“You talk a lot dude,” Michael murmured without looking up. There’s a mystery to solve as well. Noah has snapshots his mother took during the war. But they’re such odd photos, he’s not sure what/where/who they involve. While in Nice, he attempts to solve the puzzle. I loved this book. Between the characters, the mystery and the beautiful writing,I was entranced. I loved how even throw away lines rang so true. “They climbed the steps, Noah’s hip speaking to him. Tourism was such an odd mixture of the tiring and the hedonistic.” And how photography was a constant theme throughout the book. My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    As in her bestselling novel Room, Donoghue returns to the relationship of an adult and child. Unlike Room, the circumstances are very different. At the age of 79, Noah is a retired Chemistry professor, with a trip planned to Nice, France with a bundle of photographs. His intention is to uncover the mystery of his mother's stay in France during WWII. His plans are soon derailed when he is asked to take temporary guardianship of Michael, an eleven year old great nephew he has never met. Soon the t As in her bestselling novel Room, Donoghue returns to the relationship of an adult and child. Unlike Room, the circumstances are very different. At the age of 79, Noah is a retired Chemistry professor, with a trip planned to Nice, France with a bundle of photographs. His intention is to uncover the mystery of his mother's stay in France during WWII. His plans are soon derailed when he is asked to take temporary guardianship of Michael, an eleven year old great nephew he has never met. Soon the two are in Nice, and off to a shaky beginning. A life of privilege meets a life that was anything but. A life of crime, drugs, and fearsome neighborhoods. On the surface this is a charming novel, amusing at times, and wondrous as an elderly man who never had children, tries to relate to a young boy who has already endured much. There are hidden depths within, with the unveiling of Noah's mother's life, and her activities during the war. By books end both man and boy come to different realizations, and this easy flowing story holds more than one surprise. A delightful and meaningful read."Don't smash your foot. So many ways Noah couldn't protect this boy; it was like traveling with s bag of bananas he had little chance of delivering unbruised........."ARC from Edelweiss."The future was more urgent than the past, he decided, even if the two were entangled. Like the line he read in the Resistance museum: never hate, but never forget."
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Beginning in New York City:At the start of this novel....social worker, Rosa Figueroa connects the 79 year old retired-widowed professor Noah Selvaggio, and his 11 year old great-nephew, Michael Young, together.Michael’s mother, Amber, was in prison. Michael’s father, Victor, died young from a drug overdose, who was married to Noah’s sister, Fernande. Fernande was dead too. Noah lost his wife, his sister, his parents, and his job. Noah had one friend: Vivienne. Vivienne had been Joan’s best frie Beginning in New York City:At the start of this novel....social worker, Rosa Figueroa connects the 79 year old retired-widowed professor Noah Selvaggio, and his 11 year old great-nephew, Michael Young, together.Michael’s mother, Amber, was in prison. Michael’s father, Victor, died young from a drug overdose, who was married to Noah’s sister, Fernande. Fernande was dead too. Noah lost his wife, his sister, his parents, and his job. Noah had one friend: Vivienne. Vivienne had been Joan’s best friend. So, through osmosis: and especially with the death of Joan, Noah remained friends with his wife’s best friend/Vivienne. But mostly, Noah was alone in the world in the same way his great-nephew was also alone in the world. The only family Michael had - [next-akin] - was Noah. Michael lost both parents -had no siblings, aunts or uncles. Oh... and what a little spitfire Michael is! It’s a treasure dancing along side of Michael and Noah’s relationship. Their growth is sincerely moving. Noah knew about Michael’s existence....the unstable history of his parents, ....but the two of them had never met.... until... well...they were to become the odd couple. I enjoyed getting to know Noah from the start. He was grieving his dead wife Joan, and slightly grieving his retirement as a professor. I was impressed that this older man felt confident to take a pretty big trip alone at his age. While Noah was packing a suitcase for his trip to France, counting out socks, he was having inner voice conversations with his dead wife, Joan. I felt his loss. I felt his love. I felt his loneliness. I felt sad... but I was also in ‘aw’ of him. I felt privileged to begin to know him. While cleaning out personal belongings- Noah found some old photographs of his mother - which tied into Noah’s overseas trip. Noah’s purpose in going to Nice, France was to uncover wartime’s secrets from his mother involvement with the Nazi’s during WWII. He had many questions. I did too. I was definitely curious about this mystery. But first back to the circumstances that brought Noah and Michael together. It felt unlikely to me that a social worker would consider placing the young boy with an almost 80 year old who was about to leave the county. But... I went with it.Note: I just finished another book where I had to suspend beliefs in “The Book of Dreams”, by Nina George.It’s challenging for me to recover my ‘confidence-of-greatness’ for a novel once I’ve had to suspend beliefs. However ... I ‘did’ recover!!!Somehow, Emma Donogue pulled it off. Pulled it off great. My emotions were involved. Emma’s writing is what’s soooo terrific:the dialogue.... the details... the intimacy... the visuals... the atmospheric tie between the characters and setting... and her ability to know when to use witty humor...and when to be serious. No question about it... Noah and Michael were an unlikely duo.... but as the story gets moving ... it becomes impossible to put down. Emma knew what she was doing. I was returned to confidence. I could sit back and enjoy the journey....which I did VERY MUCH.I came to love the relationship between Noah & Michael.... and I loved them each as individuals. Emma’s heartfelt journey of mystery, history, family, and love was delightfully-incorrigibly-wonderful!!! Perhaps another movie?Thank You Netgalley, Little Brown and Company,and Emma Donoghue
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  • Lindsay - Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    4 stars! A multi-layered, endearing and intriguing family journey.The main relationship in this novel is between great uncle and great nephew. Seventy-nine-year-old widowed Noah, is great uncle to Michael, the son of Noah’s deceased nephew. Noah finds himself in the position of being the only living relative able to take guardianship over Michael when his maternal grandmother passes away. This was a unique and very interesting relationship to explore, especially since Noah and Michael had never 4 stars! A multi-layered, endearing and intriguing family journey.The main relationship in this novel is between great uncle and great nephew. Seventy-nine-year-old widowed Noah, is great uncle to Michael, the son of Noah’s deceased nephew. Noah finds himself in the position of being the only living relative able to take guardianship over Michael when his maternal grandmother passes away. This was a unique and very interesting relationship to explore, especially since Noah and Michael had never met prior to the start of the novel. I enjoyed following their journey while getting to know one another. The author, Emma Donoghue, weaves an interesting tale that has a strong sense of family mystery. Noah aims to explore his family history that holds many secrets. He stumbles across several photographs at the start of the book which entice him to look deeper into his past to find answers to questions that have been weighing on his mind for years. The family mystery that floats throughout the novel kept me invested and intrigued. One of my favourite parts of the narrative was Noah’s deceased wife’s thoughts speaking to Noah in his mind. He could hear his late wife’s ‘reactions’ and ‘thoughts’ to several situations which I found very touching and heartfelt. It added a layer of emotion and feeling that strengthened my connection to Noah who was strong yet vulnerable – I adored him!I had the immense pleasure of attending an Author Series Event where Emma Donoghue spoke earlier this week. She was highly entertaining and extremely insightful into her writing process. I was surprised to learn that Michael was a late addition to the novel, being added after she had created Noah and his story. I always find it interesting to learn how an author creates their characters and storyline and what inspires them. Much of Michael’s character was inspired by Emma’s own children. Overall, this was a well-written, thought-provoking, entertaining novel that I would highly recommend. It is not action packed, or brimming with suspense, but contains the perfect mix of family mystery, endearing characters and beautiful writing.Thank you to my lovely local library for lending me their copy of this excellent novel!
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/2.5 StarsAm I in a book slump? It seems my “mehs” are seriously outweighing my yeahs at this point : (Alright, so I’m the naysayer when it comes to the Akin party. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Aside from the aforementioned possible slump as well as the fact that I consistently suck turtles. I mean, there’s zero doubt that Emma Donoghue knows how to tell a story – unfortunately I just didn’t connect with this one.Maybe my expectat Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/2.5 StarsAm I in a book slump? It seems my “mehs” are seriously outweighing my yeahs at this point : (Alright, so I’m the naysayer when it comes to the Akin party. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Aside from the aforementioned possible slump as well as the fact that I consistently suck turtles. I mean, there’s zero doubt that Emma Donoghue knows how to tell a story – unfortunately I just didn’t connect with this one.Maybe my expectations were too high? I was lucky enough to read Room before the hype train left the station and no one had ever heard of it and I picked up (and really enjoyed) The Wonder upon my reaction to Room. I actually took a gander at the blurb (after wiping the drool off my face from that gorgeous cover) and went into this expecting a feel-good tale in the form of an elderly curmudgeon obtaining a new lease on life courtesy of a sassy whippersnapper. Well, I got the sassy whippersnapper . . . . “It’s an, rather than a, when it’s followed by a vowel: an atheist.”“Like, you’re AN asshole.”He supposed he deserved that one. And I guess I got the “feel good” – but not in the form I was expecting (we’ll get to that in a second). However, the elderly curmudgeon I was hoping for???? Notsamuch. More like . . . . But with a very large side order of . . . . Which, lemme tell ya, was 100% not believable when talking about a 79 year old who talks like an instruction manual and never had any children.As for the story itself? Well . . . . It starts with our main character Noah preparing for a trip to the South of France where he was born. He’s forced to alter his plans – adding a plus one – when a never-before-met great-nephew named Michael emerges needing an emergency interim caretaker due to his mother being in the slammer. Things got awkward for me immediately upon the arrival to Nice, which either was already pre-planned as one of the most boring walks down memory lane EVER or went off the rails into a Nancy Drew episode upon Noah discovering some old photographs while cleaning out his recently deceased sister’s things that he decides must be monumental or she wouldn’t have kept them (despite her being described as a bit of a packrat with boxes upon boxes of mementos that hold absolutely no sentimental value to Noah). Now, mind you, these two are staying here . . . . But it’s like the author has ever been there (despite having lived there and being very vocal about how much she loves the South of France) because very little regarding the fact that it is a paradise is mentioned. Instead they go searching for the source and story behind these old pictures. Noah eats stereotypical touristy types of food that an American with a real “daring” palate would eat – like snails (Michael is a child so he pretty much only wants French fries). Young Michael also proves to be the real brains behind the organization and can take one gander at a photo and instantly know what it is/where it might be despite the fact that he’s ELEVEN years old and has never been to Nice. This is the second book I’ve reviewed in as many days where the characters didn’t feel authentic and had me wondering if Donoghue has ever met an eleven year old. This kid read more like 14 or 15, aside from the fact that he did do that really effing annoying thing all kids seem to be doing now . . . . (Michael called it “ballgazers” and that actually made me laugh a little – but I’m sure would not please most parents and teachers. My kids just say “that’s a neck” and then karate chop the shit out of you for looking.)Michael’s unfortunate familial circumstances also get whitewashed because apparently this is a book about an adult/child relationship that is very unlike Room in that no darkness should dare to tread. The “mystery” of the photos could have been something that resulted in an amazingly skillet-to-the-face type of reveal, but no. Again, this book is all about love and light. Except when it came to any time Noah talked about his nephew (and Michael’s father) . . . . WTF was up with that?
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  • Kristy
    January 1, 1970
    Touching. Witty. Heartbreaking. Emma Donoghue’s latest is all of those and more. This was such a wonderful read that I found myself savoring it, reading only a chapter or so a night, making it last.Noah is a retired chemistry professor living in New York. His wife, Joan, passed away nearly a decade ago. Noah is originally from France, and he’s finally planned a trip to his birthplace, Nice. But shortly before his trip, he receives a call from social services: he is the only available relative ab Touching. Witty. Heartbreaking. Emma Donoghue’s latest is all of those and more. This was such a wonderful read that I found myself savoring it, reading only a chapter or so a night, making it last.Noah is a retired chemistry professor living in New York. His wife, Joan, passed away nearly a decade ago. Noah is originally from France, and he’s finally planned a trip to his birthplace, Nice. But shortly before his trip, he receives a call from social services: he is the only available relative able to take care of Michael, an eleven-year-old great-nephew he’s never even met. Noah reluctantly agrees to take Michael on his trip. This unlikely pair take on Nice together: looking at France through two very different lenses. But Michael’s tech savvy helps Noah as he attempts to unravel some details about his family’s past, and Noah can’t help but see some of his late troubled nephew in this funny, acerbic boy.I fell hard for Noah and Michael. Donoghue captures them perfectly. Their wit, their banter, and their various insecurities. This book is alternately hilarious and heart wrenching. It’s beautifully written, touching, and just a lovely read. 4+ stars. Highly recommend! Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb
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  • Ron Charles
    January 1, 1970
    Emma Donoghue was a successful novelist long before her seventh novel, “Room,” eclipsed all her previous work and brought her international fame. If you read it, you’ll never forget 5-year-old Jack, who describes living his entire life with Ma in a backyard dungeon. We see their lives as an unspeakable ordeal of deprivation and rape, but Jack’s mother makes sure that her son sees their tiny cell as a world filled with wonder.With her new book, “Akin,” Donoghue returns to the story of a child and Emma Donoghue was a successful novelist long before her seventh novel, “Room,” eclipsed all her previous work and brought her international fame. If you read it, you’ll never forget 5-year-old Jack, who describes living his entire life with Ma in a backyard dungeon. We see their lives as an unspeakable ordeal of deprivation and rape, but Jack’s mother makes sure that her son sees their tiny cell as a world filled with wonder.With her new book, “Akin,” Donoghue returns to the story of a child and an adult trapped together. But the circumstances are far less bizarre, the constraints less intense. If “Room” was a horror novel laced with sweetness, “Akin” is a sweet novel laced with horror. It’s the story of a man learning late in life to expand his sense of family, to realize as never before who his kin are.The protagonist is a chemistry professor named Noah Selvaggio who recently retired to avoid the risk of becoming a laughingstock. “Professor in his late seventies sounded rather admirable,” Noah thinks, “but professor in his eighties?” No thanks. That sensible decision epitomizes Noah’s tough realism. Confronted with the challenge of filling unscheduled days in New York City, he decides to jump-start his new life with a trip to Nice, France for the annual Carnival. There, he plans to celebrate his 80th birthday and reconnect with his hometown, a place he hasn’t seen since he was shipped off to America as a child to escape the Nazis. . . .To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Emma Donoghue is a mesmerizing writer who is not afraid to take chances. When reading her previous books – Room, for example, or The Wonder – I did not come up for air. So my first reaction on her latest book was a bit of disappointment. “A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young grand-nephew to France in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s secrets from World War II.” Really? Hadn’t I read the old man/young boy (“child is father to the man”) story many times Emma Donoghue is a mesmerizing writer who is not afraid to take chances. When reading her previous books – Room, for example, or The Wonder – I did not come up for air. So my first reaction on her latest book was a bit of disappointment. “A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young grand-nephew to France in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s secrets from World War II.” Really? Hadn’t I read the old man/young boy (“child is father to the man”) story many times already – Domenico Starnone’s Ties, to name just one? And World War II – isn’t that inevitably going to mean another book about Nazi collaborators?Well, I needn’t have worried. This is, after all, Emma Donoghue. And even though it’s not quite as ambitious as her previous work, it’s a fascinating, page-turning, turn-the-formula-on-its-head sort of read.Why is it so good? For one thing, Noah, the chemistry professor on the cusp of his 80th birthday and Michael, the 11-year-old boy whose father is dead and whose mother is incarcerated, are about as authentic as it gets. All the jargon…all the innocence combined with “pretend” disinterest and jadedness…all the wheedling and foul mouth bravado…it’s all here in Michael, who can, in turn, be defiant, endearing, and downright exhausting. Noah’s attempts to bridge the communication gap and try to earn a bit of the boy’s respects are also touching. But Emma Donoghue never resorts to manipulative sentimentality or tired tropes. Noah and Michael can step off the pages.Also, a third important character in the book is the French city of Nice. The author spent a few years there with her wife and children and her familiarity with Nice shows. The Carnival, the museums, the food (Michael’s reactions to unfamiliar French food is hilariously real), the back history – all of it adds another dimension to his already intriguing tale.I haven’t said much about the plot because that’s for readers to discover for themselves. Suffice to say that it hinges on some mystifying photos that Noah’s vanished mother took during the war years. His logical powers of deduction clash and eventually merge with Michael’s more imaginative mind as answers begin to reveal themselves. All in all, a very satisfying book. 4.5 stars. Thanks to @LittleBrown for an advance copy of one of my favorite writer's work in exchange for an honest review. #EmmaDonoghue #Akin
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  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    What a gem of a book. I just love that it centers around an older person (Noah is turning 80) who is still functioning with all his creaks in his body and quirks in his mind (he talks to his dead wife for instance). There is just not enough literature about older people and we have been blessed by Olive Kitteridge and now Noah Selvaggio, a former chemistry professor. Through a series of circumstances, Noah becomes the temporary guardian of his 11 year old great nephew, Michael. This is quite fr What a gem of a book. I just love that it centers around an older person (Noah is turning 80) who is still functioning with all his creaks in his body and quirks in his mind (he talks to his dead wife for instance). There is just not enough literature about older people and we have been blessed by Olive Kitteridge and now Noah Selvaggio, a former chemistry professor. Through a series of circumstances, Noah becomes the temporary guardian of his 11 year old great nephew, Michael. This is quite frustrating for a number of reasons. Noah is ready to leave on a trip to his hometown of Nice, France, where he has not been since he was a young child. He has never met Michael and, frankly, is not sure he's ready to take on a young boy. But Michael has nowhere else to go so Noah makes the leap and decides to take Michael with him on the trip. Michael certainly spices things up as you can imagine. Meanwhile Noah is on the quest to discover the secret of his mother's past. She was the daughter of a very famous photographer who had her own secret life. She sent her son and his father to America at the beginning of WWII and remained at her father's side in France. Noah wants to know why and what she did during that time. This is a moving book about relationships and the discovery of self. I found it so different from her earlier works including Room and The Wonder but every bit as touching. She is such a skilled author to write such varied works. This was a pleasure from beginning to end. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    The retired, childless, widower and 80 year old Noah Selvaggio is told that he is the only viable caretaker for Michael, his 11 year old great-nephew. Michael’s father overdosed, his mother is in prison and his grandmother has just died. Noah agrees to temporary guardianship but he doesn’t want to interrupt his planned trip to Nice, where he was born, so he takes Noah with him. I won’t give away the ending, but trust me you already know how this is going to turn out. I kept waiting for something The retired, childless, widower and 80 year old Noah Selvaggio is told that he is the only viable caretaker for Michael, his 11 year old great-nephew. Michael’s father overdosed, his mother is in prison and his grandmother has just died. Noah agrees to temporary guardianship but he doesn’t want to interrupt his planned trip to Nice, where he was born, so he takes Noah with him. I won’t give away the ending, but trust me you already know how this is going to turn out. I kept waiting for something/anything to happen in this book, but it never did. There was no touching or illuminating moment; no breakthrough. Given Michael’s background, it was surprising that he was no grumpier than a typical 11 year old boy. The two reluctant relatives spent a lot of time eating (with every meal described) and visiting tourist spots. Noah often tried to educate Michael about history, science, food and general civilized behavior. While in Nice, Noah became obsessed with tracing the origins of a photo of his mother with an unknown child. That led him to a lot of speculation about what his mother might have been doing during the German occupation. There wasn’t anything particularly bad about this book, but I didn’t really see any point to it. If you want a better book about tracing a parent’s wartime past, try “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje.I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Umut Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    I was really excited to read Donoghue's new book Akin, but I'm kind of disappointed. Noah is a 79 year old retired scientist, who's about to visit Nice, his birth place after so many years. Suddenly, he learns that he's next of kin for Michael (11 years old), who's his great nephew. His father died, and mother is in jail with noone to take care of him. So, they have to start a forced relationship and travel to Nice together. Michael isn't a child friendly person with no child of his own, and Mic I was really excited to read Donoghue's new book Akin, but I'm kind of disappointed. Noah is a 79 year old retired scientist, who's about to visit Nice, his birth place after so many years. Suddenly, he learns that he's next of kin for Michael (11 years old), who's his great nephew. His father died, and mother is in jail with noone to take care of him. So, they have to start a forced relationship and travel to Nice together. Michael isn't a child friendly person with no child of his own, and Michael is kind of a rebel boy. In many ways, it reminded me of 'About A Boy.'The relationship between these two is intersting to read, it's well written and all. Also, a mystery is introduced to the story in Nice from related to WW2 times. Probably, the biggest reason I feel this book didn't work is, it's very unoriginal. This concept has been handled several times. I'm really surprised that Emma Donoghue, the writer of many original concepts would choose to go for a simple story like this with a quite dull plot. The feeling I had when I was reading this book was 'been there, done that'. So, it wasn't for me.But, if you like war mysteries, or the relationship between Michael and Noah is something that attracts you, it might be for you.
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  • Doug
    January 1, 1970
    2.5, rounded up.Donahue rose to fame and fortune on the basis of her novel Room, which told a compelling story, but utterly failed to convince me that it was written from the perspective of its 5 year old protagonist (both the vocabulary and insight of the boy far exceeded such a young age). Her new book suffers something of a similar fate ... the main characters are an old codger approaching his 80th birthday, and his 11 year old great nephew, whom circumstances have left in his care during a f 2.5, rounded up.Donahue rose to fame and fortune on the basis of her novel Room, which told a compelling story, but utterly failed to convince me that it was written from the perspective of its 5 year old protagonist (both the vocabulary and insight of the boy far exceeded such a young age). Her new book suffers something of a similar fate ... the main characters are an old codger approaching his 80th birthday, and his 11 year old great nephew, whom circumstances have left in his care during a fateful trip to Nice. Neither character completely convinces - they are like caricatures of what one would suppose such people would be like, and I soon wearied of being in their company, which often grated in its boorishness and repetition. The two central 'mysteries' the elder Noel is trying to solve - what a series of photos taken by his mother during the Occupation mean, and why his nephew (the young boy's father) wound up dead of a drug overdose, are obvious to the reader far in advance of the curmudgeon FINALLY figuring them out, so one becomes impatient. And then, as in her earlier work, the ending bogs down in such treacly sentimentality, that diabetics should be given advanced warning. That said, it isn't totally unreadable, and my displeasure is at least 50% my own preference for a different type of reading experience, so a begrudgingly very generous 3 stars.
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★★★★✰ 4 stars “He and this boy were quite alien to each other, he decide. Yet, in an odd way, akin.” Akintells the touching story of Noah Selvaggio, a retired seventy-nine year old chemistry professor, and his eleven year old great-nephew, Michael Young. Noah is a widower who has few remaining connections in the world and his fairly quiet existence is thrown out of balance when he is more or less cajoled into becoming Michael's temporary carer. Michael's mother is in prison, his father, Noah's n ★★★★✰ 4 stars “He and this boy were quite alien to each other, he decide. Yet, in an odd way, akin.” Akintells the touching story of Noah Selvaggio, a retired seventy-nine year old chemistry professor, and his eleven year old great-nephew, Michael Young. Noah is a widower who has few remaining connections in the world and his fairly quiet existence is thrown out of balance when he is more or less cajoled into becoming Michael's temporary carer. Michael's mother is in prison, his father, Noah's nephew, died of an overdose, and his maternal grandmother has recently passed away. Noah is, quite understandably, reticent to the idea of looking after Michael...he is aware of the limitations that come with his age, and having never had any contact with Michael or his mother, he feels a mixture of guilt and unease at this sudden 'reunion'. Yet, given the circumstances, not only does he find himself accepting to briefly take on this role but he is also forced to take Michael with him in a much overdue trip to Nice, Noah's place of birth. “And Mr. Selvaggio is your great-uncle, which is another kind of uncle.”“What's so great about him?” Micheal wanted to know.Whether that was ignorance or wit, it did make Noah smile.” The simple and unadorned narrative takes us alongside Noah and Michael's in their stay in Nice. We follow them as they walk around Nice, eat a lot, visit museums and other historical sites. All the while Noah is also preoccupied with a mystery of sorts...having come across as some old photos Noah begins to fear that his mother might have been hiding something...his mind begins to formulate different kind of theories regarding his mother's actions in WWII: was she a collaborator? “Such convoluted grammar death required: what tense to describe the hypothetical emotions of a woman who didn't exist anymore?” Michael's constant presence however demands Noah's undivided attention. The child is rude and bratty, and treats Noah with suspicion and contempt. The two are at odds from the very start. Noah, who spend most of his days living in the past, attempts to make some sort of connection with Michael by acting as a tour guide of sorts. He also reiterates his and Michaels's family history (Noah's grandfather was a famous photographer) as a way of reinforcing their familial bond. Michael's attention however seems wholly devoted to his phone. He swears a lot, demands junk food all the time, and is bored by Noah and his 'lessons'.There is a dissonance between the two: the things that have shaped Noah's life seems to be of little relevance to Michael. At the same time Michael has experienced hardships that Noah finds difficulty to comprehend. “In the pictures Michael looked older, Noah thought; harder. But really, eleven — that was barely formed.” The two wander about Nice, often a despondent Michael's following in Noah's stead. The city seems to stir something within Noah so that he finds himself compelled to discover the truth about his mother. Interrogating the past brings to light some deeply disturbing facts. Nice's own history, the Excelsior Hotel (which happens to be the hotel Noah and Michael are staying in), the risks taken by members of the resistance, the torture they could be made to endure...the narrative portrays in sharp clarity one of the darkest periods of human history. The dynamic between Noah and Michael eases some of the tension from this perusal of the past. The quarrels had a very natural flow to them; at time they seemed to escalate out of nothing, while in other instances they boiled down to nothing. They constantly seemed exasperated by one another, and I soon grew accustomed to the rhythm of their conversations.I found myself deeply caring for Noah. His attempts to reach Michael could be both sweet and awkward, and Michael too, in spite of his horrible behaviour, slowly grew on me. “Why don't you start it now?”“I'm good.”Funny how that had come to mean no. This genuine story offers us with plenty of thoughtful reflections regarding the differences and similarities between Noah and Michael's generations. While Michael easily navigates the ‘modern’ world, Noah is accustomed to a different one. The novel also broaches many subjects—topical and non—in a very frank and natural way; commentaries regarding America and France are embedded in a very smooth manner, so that it never feels overdone. “How could you do your homework if you didn't even have a home to work in?” I was moved by Noah's internal turmoils and by his introspection of his past. His 'kinship' with Michael was rendered slowly and subtly, so that their relationship never blossoms into an unlikely affectionate bond but the story leaves us with possibility of a camaraderie of sorts between the two. Filled with equal parts humour and heart, Akin is a wonderfully compelling novel, one that I would happily read again. “He supposed it was always that way with the dead; they slid away before we knew enough to ask them the right questions. All we could do was remember them, as much as we could remember of them, whether it was accurate or not Walk the same streets that they'd walked; take our turn.”
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve read Donoghue’s six most recent works of fiction. As I was reading Akin I kept thinking to myself, “this doesn’t feel like an Emma Donoghue novel.” (What did I think it was like instead? Maybe a late Philip Roth or something.) But her books are all so different from each other in setting – a one-room prison in contemporary America, bawdy 1870s San Francisco, rural Ireland in the 1850s – that it’s hard to pin her down to one time period or set of topics. She never writes the same book twice, I’ve read Donoghue’s six most recent works of fiction. As I was reading Akin I kept thinking to myself, “this doesn’t feel like an Emma Donoghue novel.” (What did I think it was like instead? Maybe a late Philip Roth or something.) But her books are all so different from each other in setting – a one-room prison in contemporary America, bawdy 1870s San Francisco, rural Ireland in the 1850s – that it’s hard to pin her down to one time period or set of topics. She never writes the same book twice, and that’s got to be a good thing.Akin gets off to a slightly slow start but soon had me hooked. Noah Selvaggio, a childless widower and retired chemist in New York City, is looking forward to an upcoming trip to Nice, where he was born, to celebrate his 80th birthday. He never guessed that he’d have company on his trip, much less a surly 11-year-old. This is Michael Young, his nephew Victor’s son. Victor died of a drug overdose a year and a half ago; the boy’s mother is in prison; his other grandmother has just died. There’s no one else to look after Michael, so with a rush passport he’s added to the Nice itinerary.In some ways Michael reminded me of my nephews, ages 11 and 14: the monosyllabic replies, the addiction to devices and online gaming, the finicky eating, and the occasional flashes of childlike exuberance. Having never raised a child, Noah has no idea how strict to be with his great-nephew about screen time, unhealthy food and bad language. He has to learn to pick his battles, or every moment of this long-awaited homecoming trip would be a misery. And he soon realizes that Michael’s broken home and troubled area of NYC make him simultaneously tougher and more vulnerable than your average kid.The odd-couple dynamic works perfectly here and makes for many amusing culture clashes, not so much France vs. the USA as between these Americans of different generations:“It was exhausting having to translate almost every word into vocabulary he imagined an eleven-year-old would know.”The dialogue, especially, made me laugh. Donoghue nails it:[Noah:] “The genre, the style. Is rap the right word for it? Or hip-hop?”[Michael:] “Don’t even try.” Michael turned his music back on.(At the cathedral)[Michael:] “This is some seriously frilly shit.”[Noah:] “It’s called Baroque style.”[Michael:] “I call it fugly.”But there’s another dimension to the novel that keeps it from being pleasant but forgettable. Noah’s grandfather was a famous (fictional) photographer, Père Sonne, and he has recently found a set of peculiar photographs left behind by his late mother, Margot. One is of the hotel where they’re staying in Nice, known to be a holding tank for Jews before they were sent off to concentration camps. The more Noah looks into it, the more he is convinced that his mother was involved in some way – but what side was she on? Though he’s always trying to play it cool, Michael gets invested in the mystery, and in his constant selfie-taking he’s unconsciously reproducing a family hobby. This is feel-good fiction in the best possible sense: sharp, true-to-life and never sappy. With its spot-on dialogue and vivid scenes, I can easily see it being made into a movie, too. It’s one of my favorite novels of the year so far.Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    We first meet Upper West Sider Noah Selvaggio on the cusp of his 80th birthday as he makes final preparations to spend a week in Nice, the city of his birth, a city he hasn't seen since being removed from there as a child in 1944. Having been widowed 10 years before, he is accustomed to being alone, but just before his departure date he finds himself with an eleven year old grand nephew, and "Being alone, his normal condition for the past decade, was forbidden to Noah this week." What makes Emma We first meet Upper West Sider Noah Selvaggio on the cusp of his 80th birthday as he makes final preparations to spend a week in Nice, the city of his birth, a city he hasn't seen since being removed from there as a child in 1944. Having been widowed 10 years before, he is accustomed to being alone, but just before his departure date he finds himself with an eleven year old grand nephew, and "Being alone, his normal condition for the past decade, was forbidden to Noah this week." What makes Emma Donoghue's writing so immersive is she doesn't take the easy route, there are no shortcuts or cliches here. This is a perfect example of why author visits are so important. Although I finished the book yesterday, I decided to write my review after lunch with her today, and was rewarded with insights unavailable previously. For instance, she shared the part her own son played in the development of the character of Michael, how an eleven-year-old would behave and talk, is given shape through her son's suggestions. So Michael is more relatable as a person than usual. When asked how she made all her books so different from one another, she remarked that she got easily bored, and would use research only once instead of regurgitating the material in future works. And this book grew out of fascination and affection with the city of Nice through living there for a year, the landscape and the history, the food (she giggled when saying that all those delicious meals could be written off as research). And the life of Henri Matisse and his relationship with his daughter. This therefore is not the usual Holocaust story, but one based on a little known historical fact thanks to the unique geographic location of Nice and the part it has played. Emma Donoghue says she looks at the sun drenched beauty of Nice's seascape, and also sees the dark underside that took place there, and she illuminates even while she humanizes.
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  • SueLucie
    January 1, 1970
    What appeared at first to be a story of an old man and a young boy foisted upon each other for a trip abroad for a week, finding they had things to learn from each other in the way of such stories, turned out to be so much more. This element is certainly there and the two characters are spot on, their interaction plays out realistically and I enjoyed their banter, but the author also introduces a little mystery as Noah seeks answers to his mother’s war years in France. The city of Nice is an ess What appeared at first to be a story of an old man and a young boy foisted upon each other for a trip abroad for a week, finding they had things to learn from each other in the way of such stories, turned out to be so much more. This element is certainly there and the two characters are spot on, their interaction plays out realistically and I enjoyed their banter, but the author also introduces a little mystery as Noah seeks answers to his mother’s war years in France. The city of Nice is an essential player in this as we come to understand its history during the occupation of the 1940s. Noah’s mother’s experience echoes down the ages to his grand-nephew’s fractured family in 21st century New York. Written with sensitivity and insight, their stories melded in a way that had me hoping for a happy outcome for all concerned. A really satisfying read, I have no hesitation recommending it.With thanks to Pan Macmillan/Picador via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    This is the ninth novel I have read written by this author. I see her name and put a hold on whatever new book she may have delivered assuming I will most likely enjoy it.The author has given us the mixture of a travelogue to Nice including World War II history as well as a message on the strength of family ties. The unlikely duo who travel to Nice is a New Yorker now 79 years old who gets saddled with a great nephew who is currently in need of a support system. The old man was born in France an This is the ninth novel I have read written by this author. I see her name and put a hold on whatever new book she may have delivered assuming I will most likely enjoy it.The author has given us the mixture of a travelogue to Nice including World War II history as well as a message on the strength of family ties. The unlikely duo who travel to Nice is a New Yorker now 79 years old who gets saddled with a great nephew who is currently in need of a support system. The old man was born in France and he has never been back. This was to be a "fun" trip his deceased sister had repeatedly encouraged him to take. He made his plans and reservations and then full stop. He is contacted by child agency entreating him as the only possible relative to take temporary care of a young man whose mother is in prison.The interplay between a man who taught science for 60 years and a boy who keeps his phone front and center playing games 24/7 when he isn't swearing is predictably chaotic. They do both grow from the experience and the old man finds answers to what his mother was doing in France after she sent him on a boat to the US as a very young boy.Had it been a bit shorter I would have gone with five stars. Some of the Nice experiences got a bit tiresome.Library Loan
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  • Marjorie
    January 1, 1970
    Noah Selavaggio will soon be turning 80 years old. In celebration of this milestone birthday, he’s making plans to visit Nice where he was born. He’s discovered some old photos taken by his mother that are quite puzzling and he hopes to find some answers in Nice. However, just days before he leaves, he receives a phone call from a social worker asking that he temporarily take care of an 11-year-old boy, Michael, who is his great-nephew. Noah has never met Michael but he’s the closet relative the Noah Selavaggio will soon be turning 80 years old. In celebration of this milestone birthday, he’s making plans to visit Nice where he was born. He’s discovered some old photos taken by his mother that are quite puzzling and he hopes to find some answers in Nice. However, just days before he leaves, he receives a phone call from a social worker asking that he temporarily take care of an 11-year-old boy, Michael, who is his great-nephew. Noah has never met Michael but he’s the closet relative the boy has other than his mother who is in prison and his aunt whom they’re having trouble reaching. Noah well remembers Michael’s father, Vincent, and feels obligated to take Michael along with him to Nice.This book is on quite a different level than the other Emma Donoghue books that I’ve read. There’s a lot more humor in this one and I enjoyed the witty sparring between this unlikely pair. Michael is very foul-mouthed and can be quite obnoxious but knowing the life he’s led, his character is very believable. I admired the patience Noah shows Michael but then again Noah also knows about loss. He still has long talks with his deceased wife. Both of these characters are brought to life with compassion and understanding. Noah’s mother’s photos lead them on a hunt for the truth that is quite a heart wrenching one and made the book quite compelling. Could it be that Noah’s beloved mother was a Nazi collaborator?Recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • switterbug (Betsey)
    January 1, 1970
    Akin:adjective1) of kin; related by blood2) allied by nature; having the same properties3) having or showing an affinity; kindredEmma Donoghue has quite the writer’s chops. She can do a stylistic, tragicomic period piece, like FROG MUSIC, or a boldly dramatic story, such as ROOM. You can’t fit her into a niche. And whatever she writes, her characters are fully formed and could leap magnificently off the pages. AKIN is no different in that way, a witty but poignant contemporary story with an old Akin:adjective1) of kin; related by blood2) allied by nature; having the same properties3) having or showing an affinity; kindredEmma Donoghue has quite the writer’s chops. She can do a stylistic, tragicomic period piece, like FROG MUSIC, or a boldly dramatic story, such as ROOM. You can’t fit her into a niche. And whatever she writes, her characters are fully formed and could leap magnificently off the pages. AKIN is no different in that way, a witty but poignant contemporary story with an old man and young boy at the center, thrown together by life’s tragic circumstances. Donoghue plays with the different definitions of the eponymous title, but with levity and nuance. Yes, this is a tender, warm, affectionate—and sometimes brutal—narrative about the bonds of kin (and some chemical bonds, too), as well as how history inches ever close to the present, and time rolls forward as it reaches back. “The future was more urgent than the past, …even if the two were entangled.”Noah Selvaggio, an (almost) eighty-year-old retired chemistry professor and childless widow, is about to embark on a weeklong trip to Nice, France, his birthplace. He left when he was four, delivered from his mother to his father in NYC; he’s never been back, and has made this city his home. His memories of early childhood on the French Riviera are foggy. This was the time when Germany had already invaded France. He has nine old photos from that era, saved by his now dead sister. His grandfather, Père Sonne, was a celebrated French photographer, and Margot, Noah’s mother, was the famous photographer’s primary assistant. But these photos were slipshod, unframed, and didn’t bear Sonne’s stamp. How to put them into context? In the meantime, Noah is entrusted with the care of his eleven-year-old great-nephew, Michael, who he’d never met before. Michael’s father (Noah’s nephew) had died of a drug overdose, and his mother, Amber, was serving a few years in prison. Child Services had found Noah, and asked him to care for Michael for a few weeks until another relative came through to take Michael in. If Noah didn’t agree to care for Michael, he would be sent to foster care. Michael would have to accompany Noah to Nice, in lieu of canceling the trip. He was a wily, obstreperous boy, frequently disrespectful but observant, who had lived his life with few advantages. The two of them were like a fraught chemical reaction, or oil and water, but Noah understood that Michael had suffered trauma, and agreed to his short-term care. After all, what’s a few weeks with a snarly, surly, screen-addicted, impulsive kid? He could at least try to teach him some manners. “Weren’t all of us bridges for another, one way or another?”A lesser author would have made me groan. I figured out much of the general arc fairly quickly, but it was the relationship between Noah and Michael that lifted this novel to a resonant pitch. What does an old, highly educated, and mournful man and a damaged, underprivileged young boy have in common? The more Noah tries to bond, the deeper Michael’s disinterest. With a handful of antique photos and their wobbly, separate grief—“the final death of hope?”—can the blood between them find a pathway to mutual regard? “He and this boy were quite alien to each other… Yet, in an odd way, akin.” Donoghue took what could have been a derivative, ham-handed story and turned it into a charismatic, organic, and robust tale of memories, time, and the chemistry of alien relations. It is a genuine winner, surpassing my initial cynicism (and Michael’s)! I walked those steps in Nice with them, watched the Carnival and the circus, and explored he meaning of those photos. Moreover, I pondered Michael’s plight, his parents’ past, and what’s to come in the future. 4.5 rounded upThank you to LittleBrown for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.#EmmaDonoghue#Akin
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  • Michelle Only Wants to Read
    January 1, 1970
    So many years ago, I picked a random book at Target called Room by Emma Donoghue. I was excited and terrified at the same time after reading the blurb. I don't like to feel the feels, and that book had all the elements to make me sob. It did. I loved it. I recommended it to everyone I could. That was the beginning of my interest in Emma Donoghue's books. In Akin, she explores life, death, grief, and family links through the lenses of Noah, a 79 y/o retired chemistry professor, and Michael, a So many years ago, I picked a random book at Target called Room by Emma Donoghue. I was excited and terrified at the same time after reading the blurb. I don't like to feel the feels, and that book had all the elements to make me sob. It did. I loved it. I recommended it to everyone I could. That was the beginning of my interest in Emma Donoghue's books. In Akin, she explores life, death, grief, and family links through the lenses of Noah, a 79 y/o retired chemistry professor, and Michael, a sassy-mouthed 11 y/o, his "great" grand uncle. They are paired together under intense and unique circumstances, and they travel together to Nice (France). During this week, their lives will change in more than one way, especially Noah's. Nice is the background of this story, and it comes alive as part of the characters line-up. The lovely descriptions transported me to the pebbled beaches of the french riviera, its people, culture, and food. I experienced the city through the new eyes of Michael, and Noah's memories of childhood, and passion for history. In particular, the histories of his mother, and his grand-father Pére Sonne during the resistance in WWII. I loved everything about this book. The characters are so well-drawn and alive. Their interactions felt real. I felt all the feelings I tend to reserve to a few stories per year. Emma Donoghue does it again. Just like in Room, the interactions of child-adult are fundamental to the story. She gives us a smart boy with a mind of his own, and a wise old-timer reflecting on life as he is forced to look at life outside of his comfort zone. Superb!I received an ARC from NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Linden
    January 1, 1970
    Noah, a retired professor who is about to turn 80, is planning a trip to Nice, France, where he lived as a young child during the war. Right before his departure, he's contacted by a social worker who says he's the only living relative who can take charge of Michael, his late nephew's son. (Michael's mother is in prison and his grandmother has recently died.) Noah winds up taking the boy to France with him, and the kid is so incredibly obnoxious sometimes it was hard to keep reading. But Donogue Noah, a retired professor who is about to turn 80, is planning a trip to Nice, France, where he lived as a young child during the war. Right before his departure, he's contacted by a social worker who says he's the only living relative who can take charge of Michael, his late nephew's son. (Michael's mother is in prison and his grandmother has recently died.) Noah winds up taking the boy to France with him, and the kid is so incredibly obnoxious sometimes it was hard to keep reading. But Donogue is an excellent writer, and she pulls the reader in with Noah's speculation of what his mother was doing in Nice during the war--was she a collaborator or working with the Resistance?
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    For those of us that have read ROOM, there is no doubt that Donoghue can write beautifully about the relationship between a mother and child, but this book takes her writing to a new and beautiful level, exploring the relationship between an elderly man and his great nephew. The two are thrown together when a desperate social worker searches for someone to serve as a guardian for the 11 year old rather than placing him in the foster care system. Noah, a lonely, childless widower has been looking For those of us that have read ROOM, there is no doubt that Donoghue can write beautifully about the relationship between a mother and child, but this book takes her writing to a new and beautiful level, exploring the relationship between an elderly man and his great nephew. The two are thrown together when a desperate social worker searches for someone to serve as a guardian for the 11 year old rather than placing him in the foster care system. Noah, a lonely, childless widower has been looking forward to spending his 80th birthday in Nice, where he was born, and trying to understand his own history. Despite his doubts, he rises admirably to the challenge and takes Michael with him on his journey. This remarkable pair don’t find. It easy to travel together, since they essentially are connected only by Michael’s dead father, the troubled son of Noah’s sister. The writing is so vivid that I felt as if I knew the two, and chuckled as they made their way around Nice and each other. Within their story is Noah’s search for the truth about his mother, some mysterious photos and her role in WW II. Despite their difference in age, background and culture, they are a delightful team of sleuths. Their struggles during this trip are fine fodder for a remarkable and beautiful love story. As the grandmother of a child Michael’s age, I felt that Donoghue captured this difficult and eccentric pre-adolescent period very well. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to delight in this book and urge all my book clubs to read it. It is also an excellent book for my students who are going into teaching.. it is a rich and warm story, which reminds us of the role of older adults in the lives of children.
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  • Sid Nuncius
    January 1, 1970
    I was rather disappointed in Akin. Emma Donoghue certainly writes well, but I found the book a bit of a mish-mash of themes which in the end didn’t say anything very new.The story is of Noah, a retired, recently widowed professor, approaching 80 with a comfortable life in New York and on the verge of a sentimental journey to Nice where he was a child before the war. He becomes temporary guardian of Michael, his great-nephew whose mother is in prison, whom he has never met and who comes from a mu I was rather disappointed in Akin. Emma Donoghue certainly writes well, but I found the book a bit of a mish-mash of themes which in the end didn’t say anything very new.The story is of Noah, a retired, recently widowed professor, approaching 80 with a comfortable life in New York and on the verge of a sentimental journey to Nice where he was a child before the war. He becomes temporary guardian of Michael, his great-nephew whose mother is in prison, whom he has never met and who comes from a much tougher background and they head to Nice together.What follows is a mixture: the rather unoriginal story of the two hopelessly unmatched people beginning to understand and bond with each other, a love-letter to Nice, some history of the dreadful events of the Nazi occupation of the city and a rather unconvincing mystery about Noah’s mother’s activities during the war. I’m afraid it felt like a bit of a mess to me because it lacked focus as it jumped from one theme to another, and the supposed mystery didn’t convince at all as Noah jumped from one tenuous, ill-founded conclusion to another. I found Michael’s character and voice pretty unconvincing as he quite often showed an astuteness and vocabulary well beyond his years. I was also slightly uneasy at the use of some of the Nazi and Holocaust material which felt just a little exploitative to me – although that may be just a personal view as my antennae are rather sensitive to that because of my own family’s history.Donoghue is a good writer, so it’s all readable and I did finish it (with a little judicious skimming), but I wasn’t bonkers about it and it’s certainly not a patch on the brilliance of Room.(My thanks to Picador for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Akin, by Emma DonoghueI have decided that Emma Donoghue is a writer I will always read. I love this book so much...the main character is Noah, a childless widower, who is turning 80 in a week. After the recent death of his sister, Noah has decided to spend his sisters’ bequest by his visiting his birthplace, Nice, France. Right before he is to leave on his trip, he is approached by Child Services to take in his deceased nephews’ eleven year old son. The boys mother is in prison, his maternal gra Akin, by Emma DonoghueI have decided that Emma Donoghue is a writer I will always read. I love this book so much...the main character is Noah, a childless widower, who is turning 80 in a week. After the recent death of his sister, Noah has decided to spend his sisters’ bequest by his visiting his birthplace, Nice, France. Right before he is to leave on his trip, he is approached by Child Services to take in his deceased nephews’ eleven year old son. The boys mother is in prison, his maternal grandmother who was caring for him has just died, and Noah is the only relative they are able to reach. If Noah doesn’t agree to take Micheal, he will end up in Foster Care. So off the two of them go to Nice. It doesn’t sound like a terrible interesting premise, but I loved the characters. And there is also the mystery of Noah’s mother, whom he fears was collaborating with the Germans during WW2. Noah had been sent to the states by his mother when he was a toddler. She decided to stay behind to care for her ailing father, a famous French photographer. Noah’s father had already gone ahead to the US to run an art gallery and sell the Grandfathers work. Donoghue couches her tale with the background of the Marcel Network which saved 527 Jewish children from the Nazi extermination camps. I found this book profoundly moving and a deeply satisfying read. Readers may not care for Michael’s character, but as a parent, I think the child’s grief and behavior rings true to his circumstances. Highly recommended.
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  • Joy Matteson
    January 1, 1970
    This woman's WRITING. Full stop. DELIGHTFUL.Her words are perfectly chosen: light, beautiful, unexpected, and deeply moving. Not one word wasted. I loved diving into the world of 80 year old Noah and his great nephew. This is gonna be a big book. Loved every word. I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley early copy of this one. Donoghue understands adult/child relationships so well, and there is so much shine and grit bound together, it felt like reading nonfiction.If you're on the fence, lean towa This woman's WRITING. Full stop. DELIGHTFUL.Her words are perfectly chosen: light, beautiful, unexpected, and deeply moving. Not one word wasted. I loved diving into the world of 80 year old Noah and his great nephew. This is gonna be a big book. Loved every word. I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley early copy of this one. Donoghue understands adult/child relationships so well, and there is so much shine and grit bound together, it felt like reading nonfiction.If you're on the fence, lean towards picking it up and be prepared for the immersive world of Nice, France, and the complicated, beautiful relationship between Noah and Michael.
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  • Beadyjan
    January 1, 1970
    I have to confess I am a real fan of this authors historical fiction, with Slammerkin, Frog Music and the Wonder amongst my top reads. In Akin she returns to a contemporary setting and writes with the panache and elegance which is her own style.An elderly man and a young lad are thrown together to form the odd couple at the heart of this story based around a trip to Nice. Its a feel-good book (do they call this type of novel up-lit?) Amusing and heartwarming and ever so engaging the hapless duo I have to confess I am a real fan of this authors historical fiction, with Slammerkin, Frog Music and the Wonder amongst my top reads. In Akin she returns to a contemporary setting and writes with the panache and elegance which is her own style.An elderly man and a young lad are thrown together to form the odd couple at the heart of this story based around a trip to Nice. Its a feel-good book (do they call this type of novel up-lit?) Amusing and heartwarming and ever so engaging the hapless duo who grate on each other at first eventually begin to discover things in common and work together to solve a family mystery based around some wartime photos.All the way through it felt familiar, then I realised I read something vaguely similar recently entitled Baxter's Requiem by Matthew Crow.
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  • Alaina
    January 1, 1970
    Let us begin with how awesome the integration of the photos was. They could have all been in the beginning, or a plate section, or chucked at the end, but no… Their placement is instead a plot device and that’s just such a great detail. Though trying, as I definitely did go looking for them and could have cheated myself out of the reveal. This one didn’t grab me in the same way that The Wonder did – I suppose that might be because I find an 79-year-old man and an 11-year-old boy less relatable, Let us begin with how awesome the integration of the photos was. They could have all been in the beginning, or a plate section, or chucked at the end, but no… Their placement is instead a plot device and that’s just such a great detail. Though trying, as I definitely did go looking for them and could have cheated myself out of the reveal. This one didn’t grab me in the same way that The Wonder did – I suppose that might be because I find an 79-year-old man and an 11-year-old boy less relatable, so fair enough. But, it was nevertheless thoughtful and engaging and I really liked the way the book wrapped up. Noah, a retiree, ends up saddled with temporary guardianship of his great-nephew, Michael, right before he is scheduled to return to his birthplace, Nice, France, for the first time since pre-WWII. Once there, together they solve something of a family mystery – or two – and try not to kill each other in frustration along the way. What the book does well is not romanticizing their relationship: these people are blood, but they are also strangers and neither are exactly easy to get on with. There are fights and snipes and Michael is an 11-year-old boy which is so annoying I could barely handle it (let alone add in his emotional baggage-backstory). What I was less sold on were the mysteries and the deus ex machina answers that appear along the way. They weren’t all that clunky, but a few were. For me, the relationship core of the story was the most compelling part of the book and it was plenty successful to make anything else forgivable.My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the arc to review.
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  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so sad to say this but I'm DNFing this book. I adored Emma Donoghue's The Wonder and Room but after reading half of this book, I'm still not taken in by the characters or the plot. Donoghue remains one of my go-to authors. This book just wasn't a good fit for me.
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  • thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this, was a bit unsure diving into this but I’m so glad I did, a great story about crossing the generations and finding out there are no real differences only years divide you. A beautiful read, emotional and you really root for the developing bonds between them. Highly recommended Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    Visit the locations in Akin by Emma DonoghueAkin is essentially about two unlikely travel companions – an old man and his great nephew who travel to Nice and find out that they are not too dissimilar after all. It’s a story that is both unexpected and unique and both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Touching in many ways too.Noah is a a retired professor who is about to head back to Nice for his 80th birthday. He was born there you see and he wants to find out about his past. He wants to know mor Visit the locations in Akin by Emma DonoghueAkin is essentially about two unlikely travel companions – an old man and his great nephew who travel to Nice and find out that they are not too dissimilar after all. It’s a story that is both unexpected and unique and both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Touching in many ways too.Noah is a a retired professor who is about to head back to Nice for his 80th birthday. He was born there you see and he wants to find out about his past. He wants to know more about the photos he has found which were taken by his mother. Michael is the 11 year old great nephew who is in need of a temporary guardian. The two worlds join – or collide – and their story becomes an interwoven one of past, present and future.The novel covers the present day but it also looks at the way in which Noah’s life in the past has turned him into the man he is today. This generational gap covers issues such as the internet and how older people may not see the way it can help them to discover the past. We see how Noah has become the man he is today and it’s a fascinating and complex image which becomes clear.Michael too is seen through this old/young premise. You have to feel sorry for him needing a temporary guardian and being stuck with this old man at first. The development of the relationship really is something special and lovely to watch. The perfect way to see how past and present, old and young can live in harmony and help us to understand the world and each other.Two very different people who travel to a neutral setting, albeit one that the old man has links to, is the ideal way for a story about belonging, family and humanity to unfold. What we have in common with each other is so much more than what separates us.This really is a journey of discovery in every sense of the word. It was a thought-provoking and captivating journey to go on.
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