The Returning

( 2 )

Overview

An engrossing epic tale with a cast of characters that will hijack your heart.

Cam Attling, having lost an arm, is the only one from his town of Kayforl to return after twelve years of war. All his fellow soldiers were slain, and suspicion surrounds him. When his betrothal to Graceful Fenister is called off and his role in the community questioned, Cam leaves to find the lord who maimed him but spared his life, seeking answers and a new place ...

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The Returning

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Overview

An engrossing epic tale with a cast of characters that will hijack your heart.

Cam Attling, having lost an arm, is the only one from his town of Kayforl to return after twelve years of war. All his fellow soldiers were slain, and suspicion surrounds him. When his betrothal to Graceful Fenister is called off and his role in the community questioned, Cam leaves to find the lord who maimed him but spared his life, seeking answers and a new place in the world.

But this is not just Cam's story, it's about all those whose fates entwine with his. Set in a medieval world that is entirely the author's creation, this is an ingenious, exquisite story about what happens after the battle. When sisters, sons, friends, parents, and lovers are left to deal with the subtle aftermaths and unimagined repercussions of war.

A 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the aftermath of war in a preindustrial world long divided between Uplanders and Downlanders, a fractured community recovers and a new country begins to find its identity. At the heart of this story, which moves among characters in almost vignette-like chapters, is Cam, a boy who went off to war (and loses an arm) but returns many years later, bewildered that his life—alone—was spared by the son of the lord who won the war. After falling out with his family, Cam seeks out the son, Lord Gyaar, to find answers. A boy who befriends and then falls in love with Cam brings a particularly heart-wrenching thread to the story, as does the character of Diido, a girl who loses everything in the war except the spirit that helps her find a new life. Themes of rebuilding and redemption are powerful, but it is in the small, acutely observed details of debut author Hinwood's world that her story truly shines. The book's slow pace may put off some readers, but those who stick with it will be well rewarded. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—During fictitious medieval times, Cam Attling leaves for war as a boy of 12, and, at the age of 18, he's the only soldier to return. Townspeople view him with suspicion, his betrothed's father breaks the engagement, and family members treat him differently because he lost a limb. Disillusioned, Cam leaves home a second time to find his way in service to the lord who maimed him in battle and then nursed him back to health. Hinwood weaves together an epic tale with engaging vignettes that eventually come full circle. Unfortunately, odd formatting tends to break the spell and create an uncomfortable read. Long chapters are divided into sections by an extra line space and a first sentence that begins with three or four words in capital letters: "CLOSE TO, THE keep wall was not pure and white and smooth." Capital letters demand attention, but these don't seem to serve a purpose. In addition, the characters' unusual vernacular may slow readers down. It takes time to become accustomed to dialect with double verbs, e. g., "He's bitter after his sons did die," combined with Yoda-like speech patterns, e. g., "Just there when the sword fell, were you." However, readers who invest the time will eventually be swept up in Cam's story and appreciate the manner in which various lives intertwine with his.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Kirkus Reviews
A riveting examination of war and its effects set in a nonmagical alternative past. The war is over, but beyond the battlefields its impact is just starting to be felt. Like a stone cast in a pond, a father tells his daughter, "it's thrown and done, but the ripples do take longer to spread and flatten. That's what this is, the ripples." Early chapters of this extraordinary debut (published in Australia as Bloodflower in 2009) are loosely connected vignettes focusing on the ripples farthest from the center: families on the losing side whose sons didn't return, the one son—Cam—who did, refugees who arrive and move in. Gradually, readers are drawn back to the center, to those who waged and won the war. At the center are Cam and Gyaar, the victor's son. The fateful choices of each drive the plot, but the details of how war changes everyone are what matters most. The losers' village and social order are disrupted, but for some, like battered wife Ellaner and misfit Ban, change is oxygen. For the victors, change is more comfortable but equally unforeseen and uncontainable. Grounding the story are the closely observed characters and their world—vivid, flawed and immensely appealing. Like Margo Lanagan, Hinwood doesn't trade in black-and-white moral absolutes but directs her attention, and ours, to the infinite shades of gray that lie between them. (Alternative historical fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142424773
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 4/4/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 544,597
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine Hinwood grew up in England, Australia, and America and currently lives in the UK. Her debut novel, The Returning, was a Printz Honor winner.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is an engaging novel that looks deeply at the impact of war on the returning vets

    Cam Attling left his hometown of Kayforl to fight in the war. Just a boy when he joined, Cam lost an arm but is the only person from Kayforl to survive the combat. He knows his fortune occurred because Lord Gyaar, son to the winning side's ruler, allowed him to live.

    At home, he finds the townsfolk resent his surviving when other loved ones died. His family wants him to leave as they are embarrassed he came back alive while his engagement to Graceful Fenister ends ungracefully when she wants nothing to do with him. Cam leaves Kayforl for the second time in search of the Lord who spared him to learn why. On his quest for the truth he becomes friends with a boy and meets others like Diido who lost everything to the war.

    This is an engaging novel that looks deeply at the impact of war on the returning vets and those in the home-front. The living must move on emotionally with what happened to their loved ones and yet must rebuild their devastated world in order to survive the ordeal. Although being an in depth character study including looking at villages like Kayforl limits the action and slows the pace deliberately as Christine Hinwood cleverly avoids dumbing down with her powerful tale that respects the middle school audience as intelligent caring readers.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    This book was very interesting to me

    I have never read a book with such crazy names in it except for maybe harry potter but those are pretty normal names for english people

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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