Title: The Gifted Son
Author: Genevieve Gannon
Published: January 10th 2023
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
A Sydney family’s picture-perfect life is upended in an unputdownable new novel from the bestselling author of The Mothers.
What if the worst day of your life turns out to be the making of you?
Lillian heard her daughter’s footsteps hurry up the passage. She ran her fingers underneath her eyes, ready to greet her son. But when Kate appeared in the doorway her face was white. ‘Mum,’ Kate said. ‘You’d better come. It’s the police.’
With two bright children, a beautiful home and a husband she’s always depended on, Lillian Hogarth considers herself blessed. Until, on her son Jamie’s final day of high school, he fails to come home. Hospitalised by a coward’s punch, Jamie has been the victim of a muck-up day celebration that went too far.
Lillian’s support is unflinching, even as her world begins to crumble. A son whose fate hangs in the balance, a teenage witness who refuses to name the one who threw the punch, and a husband who’s hiding a secret that could destroy their marriage . . .
Is this the end of the Hogarth family’s good luck? Or will Jamie’s determination—and Lillian’s love—be the making of them?
I was first introduced to the work of Australian author Genevieve Gannon in 2020 thanks to her gold star novel, The Mothers. I have been twiddling my thumbs ever since in anticipation for her next novel. The Gifted Son is Gannon’s latest triumph. A tale that rocks the reader with highly topical themes such as assault, injury, illness, rehabilitation, lies, the afterlife, privilege, family estrangement and bullying in the private school system, The Gifted Son is a stimulating read.
Lillian Hogarth leads a charmed life, or so it seems. Lillian is the mother of two high achieving children and a dependable husband. The Hogarth family have everything they want and need, but all this comes crashing down one fateful day. The last day of Jamie’s high school career ends in tragedy when he is severely injured by a one-punch attack. Jamie is hospitalised and faces a very long road to recovery. Lillian rallies behind her son as best she can, but her perfect household begins to suffer from the impact of Jamie’s accident. Justice for Jamie proves to be difficult to attain, especially when the key witness to his attack refuses to reveal who is responsible for the fateful punch. Jamie’s father John also appears to be hiding something from his family in their hour of need. What is John withholding from his family? The Hogarth family must summon all the strength and courage they can as Jamie faces the fight of his life.
The Australian psychological fiction field is blessed to have the powerful voice of Genevieve Gannon leading the charge. Thanks to Gannon’s previous moral dilemma style novel The Mothers, along with this latest release from the Sydney based author, we have a fantastic leader in the field of conflict-based fiction. I admit to forming quite high expectations of The Gifted Son which was based on my love of Gannon’s last novel. The Gifted Son proved to be yet another winning read from Genevieve Gannon.
In a nod to the great Jodi Picoult, Genevieve Gannon’s latest presentation offers readers a fantastic fusion of genres such as psychological fiction, domestic drama, the paranormal and legal matters. I was really taken in by this one, The Gifted Son held me completely captive for a recent five-hour plane journey. With the story relayed from various shifting points of view, which are all carefully marked, Gannon delivers plenty of character introspection. We hear from Lillian, the matriarch of this tale, a woman who displays a relentless amount of support for her son in his time of need. We hear from Jamie, the victim of the attack, as he grapples with the memories of his tragic assault. John Hogarth is a secretive figure, who appears to be hiding something very important from his family. Jamie’s older sister Kate weighs in on the ordeal from a different angle. While the final voice comes from Jez, one of Jamie’s fellow classmates, who might just hold the key to unlocking the mystery surrounding who injured Jamie. The combination of these contrasted voices is consuming and engaging. I couldn’t put this one down, no matter how hard I tried. The plot is well constructed and Gannon inhabits each character perfectly, so we feel like an essential part of this emotional trying situation. I know I was intrigued to see how it would all eventuate.
Gannon’s setting is well rendered, particularly in reference to her privileged and exclusive private high school stage. When the action moves to the hospital wings, I felt a sense of high authenticity. We observe Jamie’s recovery process, which has its ups and downs. Gannon ties in Jamie’s childhood illness of leukaemia and stem cell donation into the novel, which adds another spin to his long recovery journey. Health care, rehabilitation, exercise, determination and occupational therapy is carefully integrated into this emotive story. I found these areas of The Gifted Son really interesting. We also gain an insight into family estrangement, the afterlife and metaphysical experiences, which formed some of my favourite aspects of the story. Gannon examines issues of bullying, high school friendships, loyalty, youth mental health and charitable work. In Jamie’s parents, we see how quickly a life of privilege can be shattered. The strain on Jamie’s parents soon becomes apparent as the fallout from the attack impacts them in ways they never thought imaginable. A look at the police investigation and legal processes involved in an attack like Jamie’s forms another key element of this novel. There is no denying that Gannon has issued her readers with a great deal to reflect on and discuss as she moves her latest story to a poignant close.
The Gifted Son is striking novel that reminds us of the importance of hope, triumph over tragedy, family support, acceptance, fatal mistakes, forgiveness and unconditional love. I highly recommend The Gifted Son to all booklovers.
The Gifted Son by Genevieve Gannon was published on 10th January 2023 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Gifted Son, Genevieve Gannon, visit here.