A Novel

Book - 2019
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Noah, a retired chemistry professor from New York City, finds his life thrown into chaos when he takes his great nephew, whom he has never met, to Nice, in hopes of uncovering his own mother's wartime secrets.
Publisher: Toronto :, HarperCollins,, [2019]
Edition: First Canadian edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781443458948
Branch Call Number: FIC Donog
Characteristics: 339 pages : illustrations


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Oct 09, 2020

I loved this book, found it very credible, well written and touching. Highly recommended if you enjoy human interest and exploring relationships, etc. written with skill and sensitivity.

Sep 20, 2020

I found this novel to be overpowered (in a negative way) by the way the younger character was developed by the author. I read about one third, and couldn't continue...

Aug 31, 2020

I am quite surprised that this is Noah's first trip back to Nice since he left at the age of four, especially considering his comfortable financial circumstances. Many immigrants go back home every year!
Michael is a brat and his foul language is irritating. I thought that his grandmother would have raised him to speak better English! I find it hard to believe that this kid would be so consistantly negative.
You can see the movie, Un Sac de Billes which is available at the OPL. I saw them filming it when I was last in Nice. It includes a scene at the Excelsior Hotel.

Aug 02, 2020

Predictable. Disappointing. Don't waste your time!

Mar 22, 2020

Loved the story, and the characters. A little didactic; she was obviously wanting to describe and explain and think through atrocities of various sorts.
The kid is a complete and terrible brat, street unwise and mean. Only every once in a while does his true self, the soft and caring self, peek out.
I feel jealous of Noah, getting a kid only after he's comfortably retired. Raising my kids, I was exhausted day in and day out, worried about developments at work, worried about the kids, never enough time to do anything with any amount of enjoyment.

CircMary Feb 12, 2020

I enjoyed this relationship story of two most unlikely characters who are thrown together under trying circumstances and learn the meaning of caring and understanding.

Feb 12, 2020

The two characters in this book are a juxtaposition, which means "the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect."

As the book transpired I kept expecting a mystery, a problem, something to be solved. I finally realized that the story itself is the juxtaposition of the two characters.

Noah's journey to Nice is complicated by his nephew's care being foisted upon him. Nevertheless the two wander the streets, sites, attractions of Nice, trying to discover the WWII secrets of Noah's mother. On the way the two discover themselves, their kinship and their connections as motherless boys. Ms. Donaghue has titled the book "Akin" which means "of similar character", or related by blood.

Jan 28, 2020

The book is a great travel guide to Nice and I enjoyed reading it. However, I would have found Michael more believable in some of the things he said if he had been a few years older.

Jan 13, 2020

Donoghue's novel reads like a true story---very effective. It is about a 79 year-old man (Noah Selvaggio) and his great-nephew (Michael Young) who is 11. This is a story about a man whose wife and sister have died (one, 10 years ago, the other, 1 year ago), leaving him, practically, the last member of his family still leaving. He is a retired college chemistry professor who lives in NYC and has so much knowledge about nearly everything--brilliant! But, Noah is "just" living now, nothing new, nothing not known, nothing to look forward to experiencing. So, Noah books a trip to Nice, France, to celebrate his 80th birthday; this is where he lived up to the age of 4 when his mom sent him to America to be with his father; two years later, his mom joined them in America. Noah has some pictures his mom had taken during WWII, possibly, while Noah was in America sans his mother. Then he is contacted by Children's Services and informed that his great-nephew Michael needs a home, at least temporarily, and Noah is the only person in the state who could take him or Michael will be put into "the system" and a group home. Michael's dad who was Noah's only nephew, apparently, died of a drug overdose at the age of 26; Michael's mom is in prison for 5 years for, supposedly, drug dealing. SO, Noah and Michael, over the course of the novel, fly to Nice and return to NYC a week later. During this time, these two clash over everything: culture of the past vs today, exotic food vs junk food, books vs video games, jokes when Noah was a kid vs jokes Michael's age group make, etc. In the end, it is a toss up as to who grows the most, Noah or Michael. But, this week-long trip creates or develops a relationship, albeit an unstable one, between the two.

The only reason I gave the book 3 stars out of 4 is the foul language. Just about every time Michael speaks, he uses foul language. At first I think it is to shock the old Noah; but after a while, it seems to be second nature to Michael, how he talks. Michael is a sad character because he seems so alone and cursing shockingly is his way to scream, to say "I exist; please notice me." I want Noah, who has never been a parent nor around kids much at all, to do something, to make Michael stop cursing, being rude. I guess as a retired educator, I want Michael to listen to his elder and to honor what he says. Michael doesn't seem to respect anyone but his peers, his deceased grandmother (on his mother's side), and his mom and dad.
The foul language just becomes a distractor for me. It distracts me from the brillance of the novel.

Nov 24, 2019

The juxtaposition of an 80 year old ex professor and his 11 year old street smart nephew leads to clever discourse and wit with doses of the reality of the gaps in generations. They are thrown together just as Noah is planning a trip back in time to find out the truth about his mother during Nazi occupation of France. Paced well and interesting enough.

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Mar 31, 2020

So many ways Noah couldn’t protect this boy; it was like traveling with a bag of bananas he had little chance of delivering unbruised.

Mar 31, 2020

The perpetual, cruel dynamics of childhood; every tall poppy slashed down.

Mar 31, 2020

Students were harder to impress since the turn of the millennium; they sat there with their external brains, their little screens, ready to fact-check you if you fumbled a formula.

ArapahoeAnnaL Oct 01, 2019

Weren't all of us bridges for each other, one way or another? Just a few years, fingers crossed, till Amber got out of prison. It wasn't a matter of Noah planting any olive trees, at this point, just watering one sapling, attempting to shield it from hard winds.

And then it struck him that it was really the other way around. This boy was saving Noah. rescuing him from the trap of habit, the bleak tedium of counting down the years of his retirement. Michael was the little ark, crazily bobbing, in which one lucky old man could go voyaging.

"Did it exist a hundred years ago?" "Maybe," the boy said, pressing buttons.

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