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Akin by Emma Donoghue is a very sweet story about two relatives, a young boy, Michael, and his great uncle, Noah. They find themselves unexpectedly together when a social worker ask Noah care for his great-nephew just before he departs on an overseas trip. Before this trip they had never met, so it serves as a introduction to each other.
Discovering your Parents Story
As you can tell from the title of this novel, the book is about family. In one of the parenting books I read, The Secrets of Happy Families, the author discussed the importance of telling your family history to your children. Everyone has a desire to know where they came from, and parents should tell their children about the families past, good and bad. It gives children a sense of belonging and a chance to learn from their ancestors, and choose their own path. In an article from CNN they discuss a study that states that the more children knew about their family history “the higher their self-esteem and the better able they were to deal with the effects of stress.”
In Akin, Noah is taking the trip back to his parents home town of Nice, in the hope of discovering his mothers history. As he begins to uncover the mystery of her past, he starts to doubt the person he thought she was. For me this raised the question, if you know someone really well, and you discovered something surprising about them, would it change your opinion of their character? Or would they be the same person you always believed them to be? In other words, does a mistake in your past define you for the rest of your life?
Noah’s mother never told the story of her past, and it lead her son to travel across the world to try and find her story. Michael, Noah’s young nephew, also has limited knowledge of his father, Victor. Will he one day also be compelled to discover his father’s story?
The Connection between Relatives
Although they have never met before, Noah agrees to take in his nephew’s son. If Michael was not related Noah probably would not have agreed, with his limited knowledge of children. But knowing Michael was family, and perhaps some guilt about his relationship with his father, he agrees.
Similar to the need to know your families past, some people also feel responsibility for those that are related. Despite Michael’s emotional distance and defiance, and Noah’s feeling of intrusion, the two start to develop an interest in each others lives. Michael become interested in Noah’s quest, and Noah feels compelled to look into his nephews life. So what made these two very different people become of interest to each other? Is there an automatic connection between those who have common people in their lives? Is it similar to the connection you feel with someone who grew up in the same town as you? Or people who grew up with the same religion?
He and the boy were quite alien to each other, he decided. Yet, in an odd way, akin.Akin by Emma Donoghue
Does everyone have little bits of their relatives within them? So when you meet someone related to you, you see bits of your love ones within them? Does Michael represent a second change for Noah, to honor his nephew (Victor). To fix any mistakes or regrets from his past?
Even though Noah and Michael are generations apart, and seem to have little in common. The book slowly reveals that there can be links between generations. That if you look, you will find out that you had a lot more in common then it appears on the surface.