AKIN by Emma Donoghue, begins with Noah, 79, packing for a long-awaited vacation to visit the place of his birth, Nice, France. He’s now a recently retired chemistry professor and is taking a small collection of old photographs and memorabilia along in hopes of unfolding some secrets concerning his mom’s years in Europe. Secrets from the war. Oh, I almost forgot, he’s a widow.
But there’s always something….One call from social services puts a kink in his plans. When he’s asked to become the caretaker for his eleven-year-old great-nephew named Michael, he feels ambushed. The kid has no one else. But Noah’s never met this kid. A distant relation at best. What can you do? Michael was being looked after by his grandmother who died suddenly. His mother is incarcerated. His father suffered an untimely death. Noah is “IT.” So off they go together to Nice. A totally unlikely twosome.
Michael and Noah’s grand adventure has a rocky beginning. But the kid is whip-smart with a smart mouth to go along. This kid needs a break. He’s not a bad kid, but he needs a lot of love. It’s just for a couple of weeks. That’s what Noah reminds himself each time there is an incident….
Those of you who know the ups and downs of living with a preteen will appreciate the candor and wit Donoghue adds to the dialog. I honestly found myself laughing out loud more than once. But it’s not all fun and games. The two bond over photography. Michael ends up being a huge help to Noah in finding the locations seen in the old photos. A story that begins with total opposites begins to blossom into a poignant relationship.
Emma Donoghue has written many books, but she’s probably best known for her Internationally best-selling novel, ROOM. She is a force.
I decided to read this novel because of the setting in Nice. I stayed for the story which is just wonderful. Noah and Michael may just be my two new favorite characters.
I borrowed AKIN from the library and so am not indebted to the publisher, Little Brown, in any way. But I can tell you this. I loved this novel. Great for book club. And great for pleasure reading. Cheers!