Relativity – Antonia Hayes #bookreview


Published by Corsair

Ebook & Hardback: 7 April 2016   | Paperback: 19 January 2017


Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.


Twelve year old Ethan lives with his mother Claire, in a Sydney suburb. His father, Mark, went away when Ethan was a baby and has never seen his son since. Claire has done a superb job bringing Ethan up single handedly – he is a thoughtful, bright and intelligent child with an enquiring mind and loves science and physics, especially astronomy. In fact he is so clever, he is bullied and taunted by other children at school who call him ‘Stephen Hawking’. His best friend Will has turned against him and joined with the bullies and Ethan spends his days lonely and friendless.

Claire is an ex-ballerina. She gave up a promising career to look after Ethan and loves him with every fibre of her body. He can be exhausting in his questions but she has encouraged and nurtured him all the way. Claire knows why Mark went away but she has kept secrets for so long they have now become part of her and she doesn’t know how to let them out.

Her husband Mark left when Ethan was 4 months old. We’re not sure why until later in the book when the whole story is recounted. Ethan misses having a dad – he writes Father’s Day cards but has no address to send them to. Until one day, he finds a letter sent by Mark to Claire and Pandora’s box is opened.

This is such a beautiful story that will tug at your heartstrings. At first I couldn’t understand why Claire would keep so much hidden from Ethan but its only when you know the full story that you understand. As a result of trauma suffered as a baby, Ethan has brain damage but not the conventional damage that we might think of. It is believed that his brain has re-wired itself – unlike most people he sees light and sound waves. It is only as Ethan gets older that the true extent of this damage is realised and it would seem that Ethan is a very special child indeed.

There is an awful lot of science in this book – and I must admit that a lot of the technical narrative I didn’t understand but it’s written from the view of a 12 year old and so doesn’t feel like a science text book. It didn’t really matter that I didn’t understand it, but the important thing was that Ethan did. When he finally does find a friend – someone who gets him – I was so happy for him.

There is a sadness to the story but there are also uplifting and humorous moments and the author does a really good job of keeping the balance. It’s a story of love between a parent and child and coming to terms with consequences of actions. The characters are so well defined – flaws and all and nobody is perfect; perhaps like me, you will even feel frustrated with them at times but the characters are what makes this book such a joy to read.

Relativity is the author’s debut novel and the beautiful writing drew me in from the beginning. It really is an emotional and thought provoking read and one which I am so glad didn’t pass me by.


My thanks to the publisher for the paperback copy to review.


About the author:


Antonia Hayes, who grew up in Sydney and spent her twenties in Paris, lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. Relativity is her first novel.


Author Website   |    Twitter    |    Amazon UK    |   Goodreads


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