This was a haunting and quite lovely book that, despite its strong focus on loss and healing, blends realism with the fantastical, creating a wonderful and poignant atmosphere that allows for sorrow but also great joy.
The story starts when Henri, a middle-aged Frenchman, sets out to meet his estranged young son in London. On the way, he is involved in an accident, an accident made all the more shocking because of its context. Believing his father doesn’t care, Henri’s son, Sam, only learns the truth about his father’s failure to keep their meeting in the newspaper. Thus, his first encounter with his father occurs in a hospital where Sam is forced to share this man he doesn’t remember, with a variety of medical professionals and other people who meant something to Henri. Confused, and determined not to show how his father’s accident is impacting upon him, Sam tries to keep his hospital visits a secret from his mother and step-father, all while trying to overcome the visiting restrictions. Clever and sensitive, Sam also has a condition called synaesthesia, which means he sees emotions as colours. To call them auras is only partly right. While others believe Henri is in a deep coma and unable to communicate, Sam knows different. Before long, he finds himself unable to keep away and not just from his father. He may not be able to communicate with Henri in the usual fashion, but through his unusual insight, he is able to build a relationship with the man wandering in a dream-realm and help others to grow theirs and not only with Henri…
A moving read that examines father-son relationships as well as a variety of others, including those between medical professionals and their patients. It also explores the impact injury and loss has on the loved ones of those in care. It’s also about the choices we make in the past and how they not only impact the future, but those we love and in ways never intended. It’s about communication and the different forms it can take and why, sometimes, words really are not enough.
Powerful and affecting.