Fro the author of The Space Between Us. A neglected 9-year-old biracial child adopted by a powerful white family grows up to fulfill his potential only to confront a secret which will recast his entire sense of self.
...[an] extraordinary novel ... The writing is clear, nuanced, and gorgeous and never even a word is preachy. But where Umrigar really shines is both at the opening of the book and in its brilliant final pages. It’s impossible not to ache for the young, traumatized Anton, desperate to get back to his beloved mom, even as he grapples with becoming a member of an advantaged white community ... Everybody’s Son is a tragedy in a lot of ways. It eloquently and heartbreakingly homes in on America’s problem with race, entitlement, and class, and uncovers all the compromises we get to make — but only if we are lucky enough to be born in the right neighborhood.
In thescenes between Anton and his politically astute girlfriend, Carine, the treatment of race is problematic. Anton seems strangely detached from the reality of pervasive anti-blackness. Carine’s attempts to educate Anton result in a break between them, though she is later willing to mentor Anton on his black identity — mothering him with the freedom Juanita was denied. On the other hand, the reality that Umrigar constructs for Juanita suggests the author appreciates how inescapable systemic racism is, though the consequences of Coleman’s actions are disposed of too neatly. No matter what Anton achieves, he can’t insulate himself from his blackness. Whether on Georgia’s rural roads where he is stopped by police, or in the heart of major urban centers, or within the judicial system, he is never immune from that reality — or what it means in America. The tender, final scenes of the book describe a man beginning to come to terms with who he is.
Jarring and beautiful, Umrigar’s novel examines complex social issues with brutal honesty, but also creates accessible characters with relatable motives, reminding us of the deep-seated racism that exists even in the places we don’t think to look.