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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  9,117 ratings  ·  1,343 reviews
A retired New York professor's life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother's wartime secrets in the next masterpiece from New York Times bestselling author Emma Donoghue.

Noah Selvaggio is a retired chemistry professor and widower living on the Upper West Side, but born in the South of France. He
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 3rd 2019)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,117 ratings  ·  1,343 reviews

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Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve enjoyed everything by Emma Donoghue that I’ve read, so there was no doubting I was going to miss out on this. With the frequency of grandparents taking care of grandkids because the parents are dead or incarcerated, it’s just a slight stretch that a great uncle would get the call.

Noah, a 79 year old professor, gets just that request right before he’s due to visit Nice, his place of birth and a place he hasn’t seen since leaving when he was four. As someone who’s not a natural with kids, I
Diane S ☔
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
As in her bestselling novel Room, Donoghue returns to the relationship of an adult and child. Unlike Room, the circumstances are very different. At the age of 79, Noah is a retired Chemistry professor, with a trip planned to Nice, France with a bundle of photographs. His intention is to uncover the mystery of his mother's stay in France during WWII. His plans are soon derailed when he is asked to take temporary guardianship of Michael, an eleven year old great nephew he has never met.

Soon the t
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-lit-uk
Akin by Emma Donoghue - audiobook.
Noah Selvaggio, an urbane 79 year old retired professor, pads carefully about his smart Manhattan apartment, packing a small case in preparation for a long awaited trip to Nice, his childhood home. He is a widower and lives a quiet life where often the only voice he hears is that of his departed wife talking softly, sardonically and always sensibly in his ear, guiding him through the latter years of his life.
Noah’s preparations are interrupted by a telephone cal
Elyse  Walters
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beginning in New York City:
At the start of this novel....
social worker, Rosa Figueroa connects the 79 year old retired-widowed professor Noah Selvaggio, and his 11 year old great-nephew, Michael Young, together.
Michael’s mother, Amber, was in prison.
Michael’s father, Victor, died young from a drug overdose, who was married to Noah’s sister, Fernande.
Fernande was dead too.

Noah lost his wife, his sister, his parents, and his job.
Noah had one friend: Vivienne. Vivienne had been Joan’s best frie
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4 stars!

A multi-layered, endearing and intriguing family journey.

The main relationship in this novel is between great uncle and great nephew. Seventy-nine-year-old widowed Noah, is great uncle to Michael, the son of Noah’s deceased nephew. Noah finds himself in the position of being the only living relative able to take guardianship over Michael when his maternal grandmother passes away. This was a unique and very interesting relationship to explore, especially since Noah and Michael had never
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved Akin. 79-year old Noah is about to embark on a trip to Nice when he receives an unexpected call requesting assistance to care for his 11-year old great nephew, Michael. Instead of cancelling the trip, Noah begrudgingly agrees to temporarily assume responsibility for Michael and brings him along to France.

Noah hasn’t been back to Nice since he left, as a young child. He has photos of his mother there and is trying to solve some unknowns about her life and potential involvement in WWII.

Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

2.5 Stars

Am I in a book slump? It seems my “mehs” are seriously outweighing my yeahs at this point : (

Alright, so I’m the naysayer when it comes to the Akin party. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Aside from the aforementioned possible slump as well as the fact that I consistently suck turtles. I mean, there’s zero doubt that Emma Donoghue knows how to tell a story – unfortunately I just didn’t connect with this one.

Maybe my expectat
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, odt
* 1.5 *

I will select the more civil notes I scribbled while reading this one :

Pretentious wind bagging ! does a recently abandoned child need to know how a Le Corbusier chair works ?

Stop peppering “Dude” in every conversation between the old man and the eleven year old.

Reading about characters googling historical information and then relaying said information does not make for exciting reading.

There is just not enough story here and it is criminally boring !

Whispered to myself: “Find something
Touching. Witty. Heartbreaking. Emma Donoghue’s latest is all of those and more. This was such a wonderful read that I found myself savoring it, reading only a chapter or so a night, making it last.

Noah is a retired chemistry professor living in New York. His wife, Joan, passed away nearly a decade ago. Noah is originally from France, and he’s finally planned a trip to his birthplace, Nice. But shortly before his trip, he receives a call from social services: he is the only available relative ab
Ron Charles
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Emma Donoghue was a successful novelist long before her seventh novel, “Room,” eclipsed all her previous work and brought her international fame. If you read it, you’ll never forget 5-year-old Jack, who describes living his entire life with Ma in a backyard dungeon. We see their lives as an unspeakable ordeal of deprivation and rape, but Jack’s mother makes sure that her son sees their tiny cell as a world filled with wonder.

With her new book, “Akin,” Donoghue returns to the story of a child and
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Emma Donoghue is a mesmerizing writer who is not afraid to take chances. When reading her previous books – Room, for example, or The Wonder – I did not come up for air.

So my first reaction on her latest book was a bit of disappointment. “A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young grand-nephew to France in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s secrets from World War II.” Really? Hadn’t I read the old man/young boy (“child is father to the man”) story many times
When seventy-nine-year-old Noah was asked to take temporary guardianship of his eleven-year-old great nephew, Michael, whom he had never met, he was horrified. He and wife Joan had never had children, so with Joan deceased, the widow and the lonely, reticent child (Michael’s maternal grandmother had just passed; his mother was in jail; father dead) were meant to “hang out”. Noah was leaving within days for a trip to his birthplace, Nice, which he had had planned for quite some time. He would tur ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
The retired, childless, widower and 80 year old Noah Selvaggio is told that he is the only viable caretaker for Michael, his 11 year old great-nephew. Michael’s father overdosed, his mother is in prison and his grandmother has just died. Noah agrees to temporary guardianship but he doesn’t want to interrupt his planned trip to Nice, where he was born, so he takes Noah with him. I won’t give away the ending, but trust me you already know how this is going to turn out.

I kept waiting for something
Susan Johnson
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
What a gem of a book. I just love that it centers around an older person (Noah is turning 80) who is still functioning with all his creaks in his body and quirks in his mind (he talks to his dead wife for instance). There is just not enough literature about older people and we have been blessed by Olive Kitteridge and now Noah Selvaggio, a former chemistry professor.

Through a series of circumstances, Noah becomes the temporary guardian of his 11 year old great nephew, Michael. This is quite fr
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5, rounded up.

Donahue rose to fame and fortune on the basis of her novel Room, which told a compelling story, but utterly failed to convince me that it was written from the perspective of its 5 year old protagonist (both the vocabulary and insight of the boy far exceeded such a young age). Her new book suffers something of a similar fate ... the main characters are an old codger approaching his 80th birthday, and his 11 year old great nephew, whom circumstances have left in his care during a f
Umut Rados
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really excited to read Donoghue's new book Akin, but I'm kind of disappointed.
Noah is a 79 year old retired scientist, who's about to visit Nice, his birth place after so many years.
Suddenly, he learns that he's next of kin for Michael (11 years old), who's his great nephew. His father died, and mother is in jail with noone to take care of him. So, they have to start a forced relationship and travel to Nice together. Michael isn't a child friendly person with no child of his own, and Mic
Anna Luce
★★★★✰ 4 stars

“He and this boy were quite alien to each other, he decide. Yet, in an odd way, akin.”

Akin tells the touching story of Noah Selvaggio, a retired seventy-nine year old chemistry professor, and his eleven year old great-nephew, Michael Young. Noah is a widower who has few remaining connections in the world and his fairly quiet existence is thrown out of balance when he is more or less cajoled into becoming Michael's temporary carer. Michael's mother is in prison, his father, Noah'
Veronica ⭐️
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, pan-mac
I really enjoyed this story of an inter-generational friendship, of sorts.

Retired Professor Noah Selvaggio’s wife passed away nine years ago. They had never had children preferring to dedicate themselves to their careers. He found himself now just going through the paces until it was his time. Noah decides to take a last trip, an eightieth birthday treat, back to his birthplace of Nice, France.

A call out of the blue lands him as temporary custodian of his great-nephew Michael. Left with no other
Gumble's Yard
Aug 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-ntb, 2020
I read this book due to it being the library pick for the 2020 Guardian Not the Booker Prize.

It is, I realised, the third book I have read by this author after her famous “Room” and her historical novel “The Wonder” and unfortunately it was by far the weakest of those three – really because I felt its set up was doubly lacking originality (both in the two protagonists and the story).

The two main characters are: Noah (an 80 year old widowed, still active chemistry Professor who lives in New York)
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There was lots to like about this compelling book, the characters and setting, the discovery of the role of Noah's mother in WWII and most of all, the developing relationship between Noah and his great nephew, which provides both healing and hope. Good narration by Jason Culp.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful story of an elderly widowed professor, no kids. He is contacted to take care of and be the guardian for his great grandson, whom he has never met. The professor’s grandson, Victor, left many memories before his early tragic death. Some were nice memories, others were dark and troubled. Victor’s wife is currently incarcerated and the Professor wonders what he’s getting himself into.

The blending of these two - young and old - is charming. Of course, it’s not easy and the differences bet
Emma Donoghue’s “Akin” is an absorbing read featuring an aged chemistry professor and a streetwise tween. Yes, a couple of boys hastily thrown together because of blood relations, aka kin.

Noah Selvaggio is packing for his journey to Nice, France so he can celebrate his 80th birthday and enjoy Carnival at the same time. Three days before his journey, he receives a call from Social Services asking him to take his eleven-year-old Grandnephew. If he doesn’t take him, the kid will be left to “the sys
I’ve read Donoghue’s six most recent works of fiction. As I was reading Akin I kept thinking to myself, “this doesn’t feel like an Emma Donoghue novel.” (What did I think it was like instead? Maybe a late Philip Roth or something.) But her books are all so different from each other in setting – a one-room prison in contemporary America, bawdy 1870s San Francisco, rural Ireland in the 1850s – that it’s hard to pin her down to one time period or set of topics. She never writes the same book twice, ...more
Martie Nees Record
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Genre: Domestic Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub. Date: Sept. 10, 2019
My Rating: 3½ Stars

This novel has shades of Fredrik Backman’s, “A Man Called Ove.” “Akin” also revolves around a lonely, elderly widower who learns to broaden his definition of family. In Emma Donoghue’s latest book, she gets the reader to think about the meaning of love, freedom, and family. If you read the author’s “Room,” you probably won’t forget the 5-year-old boy’s perspective of being held captive with his
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
1) of kin; related by blood
2) allied by nature; having the same properties
3) having or showing an affinity; kindred

Emma Donoghue has quite the writer’s chops. She can do a stylistic, tragicomic period piece, like FROG MUSIC, or a boldly dramatic story, such as ROOM. You can’t fit her into a niche. And whatever she writes, her characters are fully formed and could leap magnificently off the pages. AKIN is no different in that way, a witty but poignant contemporary story with an old
Emma Donoghue’s novel THE WONDER is one of my all-time favourite books, so I was very excited to pick up her latest novel AKIN.

Old people in fiction really intrigue me. There is so much history there for the taking, plus the potential of some of life’s wisdom being imparted after a lifetime of experiences (even if the lifetime is only fictional). Also, if older characters behave oddly, this can be excused because of their age, giving the potential for the author to have a lot of fun sending the
Kasa Cotugno
We first meet Upper West Sider Noah Selvaggio on the cusp of his 80th birthday as he makes final preparations to spend a week in Nice, the city of his birth, a city he hasn't seen since being removed from there as a child in 1944. Having been widowed 10 years before, he is accustomed to being alone, but just before his departure date he finds himself with an eleven year old grand nephew, and "Being alone, his normal condition for the past decade, was forbidden to Noah this week." What makes Emma ...more
Noah, a retired professor who is about to turn 80, is planning a trip to Nice, France, where he lived as a young child during the war. Right before his departure, he's contacted by a social worker who says he's the only living relative who can take charge of Michael, his late nephew's son. (Michael's mother is in prison and his grandmother has recently died.) Noah winds up taking the boy to France with him, and the kid is so incredibly obnoxious sometimes it was hard to keep reading. But Donogue ...more
Renee Hermansen
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noah, a retired New York professor, gets a call from a social worker to look after his eleven year old great-nephew as his father and grandmother have died and his mother is in prison. Noah is the only local kin that the social worker can locate.
This begins the journey of Noah, a widowed seventy-nine year old who never had children, and Michael. Noah had booked a trip to Nice, his birthplace, for his eightieth birthday and has to now take Michael along with him. While there Noah wants to get to
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful story of redemption, of people lost and found. I couldn’t put the book down. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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Grew up in Ireland, 20s in England doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature, since then in Canada. Best known for my novel, film and play ROOM, also other contemporary and historical novels and short stories, non-fiction, theatre and middle-grade novels.

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