Noah is about to celebrate his eightieth birthday in Nice — the city where he was born, the city he hasn’t seen since he was four years old – when his eleven year old great nephew is foisted on him by a desperate and persistent social worker.
Noah, determined to get to Nice and unravel the mystery of his mother’s photos, refuses to give up his trip and takes the boy along. The ensuing adventures of this unlikely pair take the reader on a wild ride through Nice and back to WWII as they search for the answers Noah needs. A story of adventure, bonding, and finding home.
Noah Selvaggio is a retired chemistry professor and widower living on the Upper West Side, but born in the South of France. He is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child, bringing with him a handful of puzzling photos he’s discovered from his mother’s wartime years. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he’s never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him. Out of a feeling of obligation, Noah agrees to take Michael along on his trip.
Much has changed in this famously charming seaside mecca, still haunted by memories of the Nazi occupation. The unlikely duo, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, bicker about everything from steak frites to screen time. But Noah gradually comes to appreciate the boy’s truculent wit, and Michael’s ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past. Both come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew.
Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room an international bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy, born two generations apart, who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together.