I wanted to love this book... and mostly I did. It was a stunningly good writing job, a great debut novel. It should be a textbook example of writing actual speaking styles, rather than just saying something about a person's voice. The story was touching and good.
There was some pretty flagrant indecency occurring. One chapter gave me pause in the beginning; I skimmed it and said ah well, let's hope there's no more of that. There wasn't... until near the end, when there's a couple of point-blank sentences alluding to an indecent act - nothing graphic or unpleasant, but I was basically, "Um? Ahem? WHAT?" And then something similar happened not too many pages later.
I finished the book... it was a good book and, like I said, there was nothing described, but I knew it was there, and I didn't see a single good reason for it to be mentioned.
Not A Single Good Reason.
You may sense I'm... peeved, to put it mildly. Well, I am. And sad.
The Returning should have been a wonderful book. It could have been. But I was not pleased by the author's casual acceptance of the character's - make that characters' - behavior.
People who've read Finnikin of the Rock and seen my earlier review of it may wonder why I loved that book and disliked this one. Finnikin had some intense things going on, I will grant. But I never felt that Ms. Marchetta approved of those things, and while I do not want to speak against the moral standards of Ms. Hinwood, I never felt she disapproved at all.
Again... I wish things could have been different. I can't really recommend this book. But I wish I could have. And I hope that Ms. Hinwood will do differently next time.