Little, Brown. Sept. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9780316491990. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316491983. F
Recently retired professor Noah Selvaggio, nearing his 80th birthday, decides to visit his hometown of Nice, France. As a child, Noah was sent to live with his father in America while his mother cared for his ailing grandfather at the close of World War II. Before he leaves, Noah finds an envelope containing random photographs that could have only been taken by his mother in the years they were separated. His curiosity is piqued, but before he can investigate, he learns he is the only living relative of his deceased nephew’s 11-year-old son, Michael. Reluctantly, Noah agrees to take Michael along, though the two couldn’t be more different. Michael grew up without a father, his mother in prison. In Nice, the odd couple start to piece together the puzzle of the photos using Noah’s knowledge of her life and Michael’s sharp observations.
VERDICT Donoghue (Room) nestles a quiet mystery in the growing relationship between two different family members as Noah sees through Michael’s tough kid act and Michael (and readers) learn what the French in Nazi-occupied Nice had to endure. Readers interested in World War II or family drama will find this a fascinating read
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