“[An] astonishing pleasure.”
“A graceful, moving, and compelling novel. Jacquelyn Mitchard at her finest.”
—Scott Turow, author of Innocent
A poignant and unforgettable novel from Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the monumental New York Times bestsellers The Deep End of the Ocean and The Most Wanted, A Theory of Relativity is a powerful tale that explores the emotional dynamics and dramas of two families fighting for custody of a young child. The very first author selected by the Oprah Book Club, Mitchard is a matchless, wise, and warm chronicler of families and their human foibles—and A Theory of Relativity is contemporary women’s fiction at its best, a must-read for fans of Sue Miller, Jane Hamilton, and Elizabeth Berg.
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"They died instantly." When it comes to first sentences, it's hard to beat the car-crash immediacy of A Theory of Relativity. What follows, alas, is even more wrenching, if not nearly as black and white. Having perished in the wreck, Georgia and Ray McKenna leave behind an orphaned 1-year-old girl named Keefer--and handsome, self-involved Gordon McKenna decides to adopt his adored sister's child. Unfortunately, that's not what his affluent in-laws have in mind. The ensuing custody battle turns into a protracted legalistic horror show: a kind of Bleak House for the Oprah age, complete with appeals, retrials, PR campaigns, and even last-minute legislation.
The case is all about what's best for Keefer--right? Actually, it's also about what constitutes a family, how much genes determine our fate, and the precise meaning of blood relative. Author of the gripping family dramas The Deep End of the Ocean and The Most Wanted, Jacquelyn Mitchard is no stranger to this fictional territory. To her credit, she has created a story without heroes or villains--but also one that could have used a little more editorial nip-and-tuck. The narrative is strongly weighted toward monologue and exposition, and as a result, a compelling story ends up hampered by an awareness of its own consequence. (There's also an abundance of dialogue like "no wettie!" and "uckie," which reminds us that fiction is one place where toddlers should be seen and not heard.) Still, Mitchard is a canny student of the human heart, and in the age of cloning, in vitro fertilization, and alternative families, the nature versus nurture debate seems more relevant than ever. The author may be no Dickens, but you could call her sentimental in the same way: unafraid, that is, to appeal to her readers' strongest emotions. --Chloe ByrneFrom the Back Cover:
Jacquelyn Mitchard's first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, launched the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. Now, with A Theory of Relativity, she delivers yet another gripping story steeped in the peril and redemptive powers of family love.
Gordon McKenna -- at age 24 -- thinks he's already heard the worst news of his life when he learns that his only sister Georgia is fatally ill. Then Georgia and her husband die in a car accident, leaving behind their baby daughter, Keefer. Gordon and his parents are able to survive their sorrow only by devoting themselves heart and soul to the care of the beloved one-year-old.
But the decision of who will raise Keefer, and how, is far from over. Gordon's most basic assumptions about the security and identity of his family will be challenged in ways so provocative that the McKennas will be driven first to disbelief and then to outrage. Their ordeal will test the limits of love within a closely knit family again and again, challenging even love's ultimate capacity to heal.
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