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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,480 ratings  ·  778 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 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,480 ratings  ·  778 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
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
Lindsay - Traveling Sister
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: author-series
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 ...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
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
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's
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
Umut Reviews
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
Veronica ⭐️
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
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
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
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
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: 3 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
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the ninth novel I have read written by this author. I see her name and put a hold on whatever new book she may have delivered assuming I will most likely enjoy it.
The author has given us the mixture of a travelogue to Nice including World War II history as well as a message on the strength of family ties. The unlikely duo who travel to Nice is a New Yorker now 79 years old who gets saddled with a great nephew who is currently in need of a support system. The old man was born in France
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What appeared at first to be a story of an old man and a young boy foisted upon each other for a trip abroad for a week, finding they had things to learn from each other in the way of such stories, turned out to be so much more. This element is certainly there and the two characters are spot on, their interaction plays out realistically and I enjoyed their banter, but the author also introduces a little mystery as Noah seeks answers to his mother’s war years in France. The city of Nice is an ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Noah Selavaggio will soon be turning 80 years old. In celebration of this milestone birthday, he’s making plans to visit Nice where he was born. He’s discovered some old photos taken by his mother that are quite puzzling and he hopes to find some answers in Nice. However, just days before he leaves, he receives a phone call from a social worker asking that he temporarily take care of an 11-year-old boy, Michael, who is his great-nephew. Noah has never met Michael but he’s the closet relative the ...more
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
Alison Hardtmann
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Noah is unprepared for the social worker's request; to foster his nephew's eleven-year-old son, at least temporarily. He's about to turn eighty, content with his quiet, well-heeled life as a retired academic and planning a trip to the French city he left as a young boy. He and his wife had cut ties with their nephew after he'd stolen from them to support his drug habit, so Noah had never even met his great nephew. But he can't quite brush aside the request, given that Michael's only other option ...more
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
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
Michelle Only Wants to Read
So many years ago, I picked a random book at Target called Room by Emma Donoghue. I was excited and terrified at the same time after reading the blurb. I don't like to feel the feels, and that book had all the elements to make me sob. It did. I loved it. I recommended it to everyone I could. That was the beginning of my interest in Emma Donoghue's books.

In Akin, she explores life, death, grief, and family links through the lenses of Noah, a 79 y/o retired chemistry professor, and Michael, a
Sid Nuncius
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I was rather disappointed in Akin. Emma Donoghue certainly writes well, but I found the book a bit of a mish-mash of themes which in the end didn’t say anything very new.

The story is of Noah, a retired, recently widowed professor, approaching 80 with a comfortable life in New York and on the verge of a sentimental journey to Nice where he was a child before the war. He becomes temporary guardian of Michael, his great-nephew whose mother is in prison, whom he has never met and who comes from a
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wwii, 2019, france, nyc, mystery, audio
What a disappointment from Emma Donoghue. I didn't read Room but read Slamerkin years ago and loved it. This book had all the right themes and set up for a story that I would like: a Jewish great grandfather, Noah, takes his great nephew, Michael, on a trip to France to find the answers to a family mystery that took place during WW11. Noah has only met Michael a few days before they leave on the trip. Unbelievable but I gave Donoghue the benefit of the doubt expecting to see change and a growing ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For those of us that have read ROOM, there is no doubt that Donoghue can write beautifully about the relationship between a mother and child, but this book takes her writing to a new and beautiful level, exploring the relationship between an elderly man and his great nephew. The two are thrown together when a desperate social worker searches for someone to serve as a guardian for the 11 year old rather than placing him in the foster care system.

Noah, a lonely, childless widower has been looking
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Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of ...more
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“We spend most of our lives holding on to objects, he thought, and finally they fall from our cold dead hands and those who tidy up after us have to worry of what to do with all this stuff.” 2 likes
“He supposed it was always that way with the dead, they slid away before we knew enough to ask them the right questions.” 1 likes
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