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In his exceptional debut novel, poet Mott brings drama, pathos, joy, horror, and redemption to a riveting tale of how the contemporary world handles the inexplicable reappearance of the dead. The primary focus is on Harold and Lucille Hargrave, who lost their son, Jacob, half a century ago in a tragic drowning accident on his eighth birthday. Amid global rumors about "the Returned," their son arrives at their doorstep-with an agent from the International Bureau of the Returned-still eight and healthy, as if nothing has changed in more than 50 years. Locals have mixed feelings when Arcadia, their small, backwater Southern town, is inundated with soldiers and taken over as a refuge for the multitude of Returned who have nowhere else to go (not every family wants them back), and Mott ratchets up the tension. Are the Returned walking, breathing miracles? Or signs of the Devil and "the end of times"? Even local Pastor Robert Peters cannot decide how to respond to these people, haunted as he is by the sudden reappearance of the love of his life, a girl who died as a teen. When some of the disgruntled locals take matters into their own hands, there is an apocalypse of sorts and both the frailty and strength of human character become evident; Mott brings depth and poignancy to the Returned and their purpose for existing. Agent: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* In this sparely written first novel, poet Mott posits intriguing questions about our uneasy relationship with death. Harold and Lucille Hargrave are stunned to find their eight-year-old son, Jacob decades after the boy's death by drowning standing on their front porch, along with Martin Bellamy, a government agent for the International Bureau of the Returned. All over the globe, the dead are returning to their families, causing massive confusion and a pervasive anxiety that countries will run out of room and the resources to care for the enlarging population. And the Hargrave family seems to encompass the spectrum of emotions that greet the Returned, as Lucille is overjoyed to once again cook and care for her son, despite her advanced years, while Harold is afraid of all the emotions that his son stirs up, recalling anew the anguish and grief he thought he had finally laid to rest. Mott brings a singularly eloquent voice to this elegiac novel, which not only fearlessly tackles larger questions about mortality but also insightfully captures life's simpler moments, as when a father and son earnestly discuss the finer points of how to tell a good joke. A beautiful meditation on what it means to be human.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist