Review – Relativity – Antonia Hayes

This was the first book that I read in 2017 to count towards my tally of books by Australian women for The Australian Women Writers challenge.


Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

The book opens: ‘Before you hear any words, you can hear the panic.’

My thoughts: Not all books that I read make me want to keep on reading and not take a break.  Relavitity turned out to be one of those books though.  It opens with a half page description that teases you about what is happening. And then you turn the page and a beautiful scene is set with a 12 year old who loves physics and astronomy and his mum Claire who dotes on her son. They are going to look at the stars even though it is 2am and he has school the following morning.

Ethan is a very clever boy who unfortunately gets bullied at school because he is highly intelligent.  But the other children also mention the lack of a father figure as Claire is raising her son by herself.  Mark, Ethan’s father lives on the other side of the country but he returns to Sydney as his own father is dying.

There were many things that I liked about the book.  I liked the way that the characters were described, they were utterly plausible.  I also liked the way that Sydney is described in the book.  It also dips into the back story of how Claire and Mark meet and fall in love.

I thought the inclusion of the scientific terms and descriptions was quite something, Hayes obviously spent a lot of time researching her material to include this in the book.

It does tug at the heart strings, since it talks about shaken baby syndrome.

But I do think it is a book that is worth reading.

The author: Antonia Hayes, who grew up in Sydney and spent her twenties in Paris, currently lives in San Francisco. Relativity is her first novel.

Hayes’ website is a visual feast.

Review copy received from the publisher.