relativity review

Title: Relativity
Author: Antonia Hayes
Publication Date: 3rd May 2016
Genre: Contemporary Adult Fiction

Note: I won this proof copy as part of a Goodreads giveaway, and this is my honest review in return.

ukcover1A tiny baby is rushed to hospital with injuries to his brain. Doctors suspect he was shaken by his father, who is later charged and convicted.

Twelve years later, Ethan is now a singular young boy. Gifted with an innate affinity for physics and astronomy, Ethan sees the world in ways other simply can’t – through a prism of light, time, stars and space.

Ethan’s mother, Claire, has tried to keep him from finding out about what happened when he was a baby. But the older Ethan gets, the more questions he asks about his absent father.

A single handwritten letter is all it takes to set off a dramatic chain of events, pulling both parents into Ethan’s orbit. As the years seem to warp and bend, the past is both relived and revealed anew for each of them.

When I finished this book, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had no words to explain it. I loved it. The second I put the book down I took to Twitter, and this was my instant reaction:

Relativity follows a young boy called Ethan who has an astonishing mind for physics. He can literally see physics: he sees colours in light, energy and sound waves. At first I thought the simple answer behind it was that he has an amazing imagination and his affinity for physics lets him see everything literally. This book, however, in its convincing, beautiful, heartbreaking way, tells the story of just how this is possible – and let me tell you now… you’re in for a rollercoaster of a book. The story fluctuates naturally and effortlessly between happy and colourful, to dark and heart wrenching.

One great thing about Relativity is that it doesn’t only focus on Ethan, although he is the protagonist. We get to learn about Ethan’s parents, Claire and Mark, too. We learn about their lives before and after the birth of Ethan, their families, and their true feelings towards their son and each other. The interaction between the two characters is authentic and genuine; it’s not something from a fairy tale. The relationship Ethan has with both of his parents is also written wonderfully, and his relationship with his new friend Alison, a sweet girl with epilepsy whom Ethan meets while in hospital, made me smile – it’s like a temporary escape, for the characters and for the reader, from the harsh reality of what is actually happening to them.

The science is something that impressed me most about this book. Every scientific metaphor, every vision that Ethan sees and every conversation the characters have about theoretic or particle physics, is so amazingly written that I was hanging on to every word, fascinated by the facts and theories. It was so compelling and thought-provoking that it made me want to take more of an interest in physics (and as someone who was awful at physics in school, that is a huge statement for me to make).

I could talk about this book for hours; I only finished it two days ago and I’ve already recommended it to three people. In this review though, I don’t think there’s anything else I can say other than I adore this book, and it took all my strength not to turn right back to the beginning and start reading it all over again.


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