The story centers around Harold and Lucille, both in their 70's, living in the small town of Arcadia. In 1966, their only child, Jacob, drowned on his birthday. He was only 8 years old. Harold and Lucille have lived with their grief for 50 years; sometimes it is hard for them to even remember being a parent.
And then one day a man appears on their doorstep, holding the hand of a little boy.
It's Jacob. He suddenly appeared on a riverbank in China, not knowing where he was--he just knew he wasn't home and he wanted his parents.
This is not an action packed story. It is much more a reflective story about how we, as humans, treat the 'returned'. They are quickly outnumbering the 'true living', and resentment is building. Some people don't want to see their loved one returned. And who returns? Soldiers, children, murder victims, dementia-laden old women--it doesn't matter--they are all coming back. And why are they returning? Is it a test from God, a sign of the end times, or something else? Who can answer that question?
The author leaves a lot of questions unanswered; the point of this novel is not how or why they come back, but how we feel about them coming back. We all have loved ones who have passed on; what would you do if you had another chance to talk to them, and be with them? Would you take it? Would you still love them the same?
This novel certainly raises a lot of questions. Lucille does what she thinks is right, with results that you may or may not agree with. It's a great conversation piece, because we all have different opinions--and let's face it--the possibility of this happening is so remote that we never do think about it.
But what if it did happen?
Rating: 7/10 for a thoughtful, timely novel about grief, love, prejudice, and the meaning of life.
Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio.