Akin by Emma Donoghue (Review by Jillian Tremblay)

2 min read

Book Rating: 3.5

Akin is a sentimental story about the power of family and looks at the ugly and beautiful history we can discover. The story follows Noah, the now elderly grandson of the famous photographer Père Sonne (a work of fiction for the novel) getting ready to embark on a nostalgic trip to his hometown of Nice, France. Before embarking, Noah learns that his great-nephew, Michael, needs temporary care while his social worker locates family who can care for him permanently. Reluctantly, Noah and Michael travel to France to explore Noah’s childhood.

There are all of the elements you expect when an un-matched pair, who barely know each other, are thrown together. There are misunderstandings, moments of panic and frustration as well as the realization of each other as a whole and finding joy while spending time together. But the reader will enjoy seeing Nice through both of their eyes and learning about the history of Nice during WWII and the Marcel Network that saved 527 children during the German occupation of France.

This is a quiet book that weaves history and fiction together to explore the complicated history of family and humanity as a whole. I did enjoy the story the character development but found that it didn’t grip me. This isn’t a book that you will feel is impossible to put down, but it is a well-crafted and thoughtful story. At 335 pages, it took me longer to get through than I expected, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting book to read. The characters are believable and well-rounded, from Rosa the over-worked social worker to Michael, the defensive boy who wants to be accepted but is struggling to know who he really is.

There are moments of humour that had me laugh out loud as I watched the two main characters find common ground and build a relationship. I found myself wondering how they would fare, had the story continued, what challenges would they face together? How would each grow? I certainly recommend this book and would encourage readers, if they find themselves putting it down and forgetting, to keep picking it up and continue the story.

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