by Emma Donaghue

Overview: 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.

Faith Bowers (11/16/19): This is a very funny book. I have only read Room by Ms. Donoghue so I had no idea that I was going to enjoy this dust read. The premise is possible though not necessarily probable. Having an 11 year old street wise kid share 7 days in Nice France with his never before seen great uncle who’s 80th birthday is on the trip. There are two challenges that were almost resolved. The unexplained pictures from Noah’s mother and how did Michael’s parents end up dead and incarcerated. This made for content of the novel rather than just banter between the two relations and the humor from lack of parenting skills with a challenging child. Ms. Donoghue is an accomplished writer who shares both history and current mores with us in this novel.
Rating: ***

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