'Relativity is wonderful, a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel that I feel certain will find the huge audience it deserves.' SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep and Second Life
Ethan is a bright young boy obsessed with physics and astronomy who lives with his mother, Claire. Claire has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he's becoming increasingly curious about his father's absence in his life, wanting to fill in the gaps.
Claire's life is centred on Ethan; she is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son, and of her own feelings. When Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event from when he was a baby, Claire's tightly held world is split open.
On the other side of the country, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart. Then a sudden and unexpected call home forces him to confront his past, and the hole in his life that was once filled with his wife Claire and his son Ethan.
When Ethan secretly intercepts a letter from Mark to Claire, he unleashes long-suppressed forces that – like gravity – pull the three together again, testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
Heart-wrenching, absorbing and magical, Relativity is an irresistible novel about science, love, unbreakable bonds and irreversible acts.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
I love writers - especially debut writers - who have a big bold ambition to do something different. Their aspiration in aiming high is so noble and thrilling for the readers who go on the journey with them. That's what Antonia Hayes does in Relativity, a novel underscored by a love of science that manages to weave together a simple story about a broken family and an unusually bright boy with big ideas about time, space, matter and the cosmos.
Twelve year old Ethan is an exceptionally gifted boy obsessed with physics and astronomy who gets teased at school where he's called Stephen Hawking (and before you sigh and go oh please not another naif somewhere on the autism spectrum, I promise, this is not that).
He lives with his mother Claire, a retired ballet dancer whose career never quite reached its peak (I feel duty bound to warn you that these are the weakest sections of the book, but that should not put you off). His father, Mark, is absent but exerts a magnetic pull on his mind. Eventually the three are brought together and while it's not as dramatic as an asteroid collision, it has profound consequences for all three. You could even say that their personal planets are realigned. (Hayes' use of scientific terms as chapter headings adds a nice touch, and makes you consider the twin meanings of terms like gravity.)
Perhaps the most fascinating and mysterious science explored in Relativity is the still undiscovered terrain of the brain, as uncharted as some parts of the galaxy. What makes Ethan such a unique and gifted child? Can he really see sound?
Above all, this is a charming, gentle, sometimes sentimental story about the value of proof, the changing nature of what we know and the power of forgiveness. I think readers will not only take Ethan to their hearts but find themselves looking up at the stars more frequently with wonder. And that's no bad thing.
About the Author
Antonia Hayes is a Sydney-based writer and has written for publications all over the world, including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and Vingt Paris. She is co-director of the National Young Writers' Festival, and merchandising and marketing manager at Copia Australia. She attended the first Faber Academy novel writing course in London in 2009 (with S.J. Watson!), lived in Paris for four years, and has previously worked as a book publicist for Random House Australia. She is working on her first novel.
'Relativity is wonderful, a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel that I feel certain will find the huge audience it deserves.' SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep and Second Life. 'Relativity is a transcendental book that manages to stay grounded and true in its warmth and pathos. With fully realised characters and a gripping storyline that unfolds into a carefully constructed equation of familial love, I could not put it down.' Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gem and Laurinda