Mott came up with his original and thought-provoking premise after his mother passed away. Missing her, he dreamed of her one night. And the next day thought...what if....what if "she actually did come back, just for one night? And what if it wasn't just her? What if it happened to other people, too?"
And those are the Returned. Jacob William Hargrave died at eight years old in 1966. Almost fifty years later a Bureau Agent shows up in small town Arcadia, MO at Lucille and Harold's door with - well - with eight year old Jacob. Lucille doesn't question the miracle, but Harold does.
As more and more Returned appear, the miracle loses its sheen. Arcadia is declared a holding area for The Returned. More and more are shipped in. The 'True Living' are feeling crowded out and wronged. Tempers flare and aggression grows. But all Lucille wants is to be a mother to her son again. And Harold, he would do anything to keep Lucille happy. Anything.
"Just because a person don't quite understand the purpose and meaning of a blessing, that doesn't make it any less of a blessing....does it?
Mott captured me. I truly had no idea where he was going to go with this story. Are The Returned a blessing or a curse? We hear some of The Returned's own stories in short insert chapters. We follow along as Lucille and Harold try to deal with the unexpected hand that has been dealt to them. And when the Bureau takes control, the struggle to follow their hearts - at heavy costs.
The Returned can be read on many levels - simply exploring the love we feel at the loss of a loved one - what would you do if you could have one more day again? The Returned reminded me a bit of the movie District Nine - ignorant mistreatment of a race/culture/phenomenon that isn't understood or tolerated. There are some chilling chapters from the colonel in charge of the forced encampment. The 'True Living' townsfolk have their own agenda as well. "There were just too many people in the world all of a sudden. Concessions for life had to be made." Religious questions also arise. The reason behind The Returned is never explained, rather the book deals with the aftermath and reactions to this happening.
The Bureau Agent, Martin Bellamy is just as much a lead character as Harold and Lucille. He's complex, keeping his thoughts and feelings carefully hidden behind a company demeanour, but adding a nice twist to things as the book progresses.
But what touched me the most was the relationship between Lucille and Harold. Without revealing any more of the plot, I have to admit that I found my eyes watering by the end of the book. Mott does a fantastic job bringing these characters to life - their love and their relationship was tangible, real and touching.
What if? Definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of The Returned.
Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various journals such as Prick of the Spindle, The Thomas Wolfe Review, The Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Measure and Chautauqua. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award.
He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and "…hide behind me…" The Returned is his first novel. You can find Jason Mott on Facebook and on Twitter.
TLC Book Tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.
And thanks to the generosity of Harlequin/Mira, I have a copy to giveaway! Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept. 28/13, when a winner will be randomly chosen.
The Returned has hit the New York Times Bestseller List and has also been optioned by Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B. It will air on ABC this fall under the title 'Resurrection.'