Akin, by Emma Donoghue.
Yes, now that the trip is only days away, Noah is pleased to see that he can still feel some excitement at spending his Milestone birthday in such a special place.
Until he is called by Rosa Figueroa, a social worker (with 24 other cases in her personal workload) who informs him that his sister’s late, overdosed son had an eleven-year-old son of his own, previously cared-for by the maternal grandmother: sadly, she has died of complications from diabetes, and Michael has no-one from his biological family to care for him. Apart from Noah, his Great-uncle.
And it does Noah no good to enquire after the whereabouts of Michael’s mother: ‘she’s currently incarcerated.’ Would Noah be prepared to care for Michael until Rosa can track down Michael’s Aunt (who is who knows where) – perhaps he could take Michael to Nice, too?
The acclaimed author of ‘Room’ takes us all to Nice on a very bumpy ride for two people who do not want to be together; a man at the wrong end of his life forced with zero experience to care for a child who is grieving for the absence of his mother and grandmother, the pillars of his short existence. And there is the deepening puzzle of Noah’s origins, the mystery of which ultimately creates the fragile beginnings of a relationship that, at the end of the trip, doesn’t seem so impossible after all. This is a story of the true meaning of kinship and the unbreakable bond of family, there whether we recognise it or not. SIX STARS.