- I fell in love with the city of Nice, France. One of the main characters Noah, a chemistry professor nearing 80 was born there and in the book, he takes his 11-year-old great-nephew Michael on a trip to Nice. Donoghue does a good job of introducing us to the city as we read the book. We learn about its history, its culture, its geography. I have never been to France but it is on my list of places to visit and when I do Nice will definitely be included in the itinerary after reading Akin.
- The book highlights the important role women played in the resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II. Noah who was a child during the war was sent to live in America in order to keep him safe. He finds out his mother who remained in France played a key role in the resistance against the Nazis. Finding out about what exactly that role was, is one of the mysteries that drive the plot of the novel. Often war stories focus on the role of men (think of the recent movie 1917) I liked it that this one revolved around a woman.
- In the novel, Noah’s deceased wife Joan keeps giving him bits of advice and making commentary on what is happening in his head. I liked Joan and she was one of my favourite characters in the novel even though she is dead. Although some reviewers panned Donoghue for using this technique I found it believable and Joan’s voice helped us get to know her husband better. I often hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me things and she died in 2013.
Three things I didn’t like about the novel Akin by Emma Donoghue were…………….
- Emma gives us a lot of information about Nice, about science, about photography, about history in her novel but sometimes this is delivered in an almost lecture sort of way and it made me feel that the characters were just mouthpieces for filling us in on all this information and what they were telling us didn’t really contribute to us getting to know them better as people.
- I found both Noah and Michael a little hard to like. They are both interesting characters to be sure and I know writers have to give characters a balance of positive and negative traits but somehow I just couldn’t get attached to Noah or Michael. Perhaps Donoghue wrote them a little too much to the stereotypes of crotchety, absent-minded octagenarian and rebellious, technology addicted near teen.
- Nothing gets totally resolved by the end of the book. Is Michael’s mother really not guilty of the crimes that have her incarcerated? Can her case be revisited? Was Michael’s father really a drug dealer or was he set up? Did Noah’s mother give in to the Nazis when she was tortured? Will Michael be allowed to continue living with Noah when they return to New York?
I think you should read the book, Akin. It is by an excellent author and the premise for the story is stellar. But I have to admit it was not one of my favourite Emma Donoghue books. Have you read the novel? What did you think?