Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Returned ~ by Jason Mott

The Returned ~ by Jason Mott, 2013, fiction (North Carolina), 8/10
I told you about this book when it was still on order.  It's about people's loved ones returning from beyond, and one knows how or why.  What would it be like if someone you love came back one day?  I've read the book now and rate it 8 of 10, a very good book.
This novel has one character who is very interested in words, learning them and improving hersel by learning words.  Here's one of her word choices, when her husband and son are being held by the government (p. 115):
"But it's been weeks," Lucille replied.
"And they're both healthy and alive.  Aren't they?"
"I suppose so. ... But they're..."  She hunted for a good word.  She would feel better if she could find a quality word right now.  "They're...immured."
Okay, I rarely come across a word anymore that I don't know.  Even this one seemed like one I ought to know, but I'm sure I haven't read it or heard it used in years.  Do you know what it means?  Confession:  I had to look it up, but I'm sure I've never used this word and probably never will.  I did learn something though.
immure = enclose or confine (someone) against their will.  Example: "Her brother was immured in a lunatic asylum."

synonyms = confine, intern, shut up, lock up, incarcerate, imprison, jail, cage, put behind bars, put under lock and key, hold captive, hold prisoner; detain, hold.  Example:  "His first wife was immured in sanatoriums for most of her adult life."
This next quote stopped me in my tracks.  I had to read it several times, wondering where in the world the author came up with these lines.  This is from the perspective of the pastor in the story, trying to get someone out of confinement.  (Or would that be "immurement"?  I wasn't sure that was even a word, so I looked it up.  It means "a form of imprisonment, usually for life, in which a person is locked within an enclosed space and all possible exits turned into impassable walls.")  Okay, here's the quote (page 262):
He'd talk to whomever he needed to talk to about having her released into his custody.  He could throw his spiritual weight around when he needed to.  Apply a little emotional guilt, as all men of the cloth are trained to do.
What???  Trained to apply guilt?  What "men of the cloth" would that be?  Not my denomination.  I have never run into anything like that, ever, and I'm an ordained minister.  What a strange idea.

My father died in a traffic accident when he was only 45.  The "returned" people in the book came back at the same age they were when they died.  If my dad returned now, he would be younger than my three children.  Hard to imagine.  One of the book's characters dreamed about a loved one returning.  A few years (or months?) after my dad died, I dreamed about meeting him on the sidewalk outside my church, knowing he had died.  I rarely recall actual words from my dreams, but I remember saying to him, "Does Mom know you're back?"  That's sort of what this book was about.  Here's a photo of my dad about twenty years earlier, as a 20-something soldier during World War Two.  A couple of my grandchildren are older than he was in this picture.

The dustjacket photo

I don't know what the photo on the cover means, unless it implies a world turned upside down.  The boy appears to be about eight years old, just like the boy in the novel who died on his eighth birthday.

No comments: