‘The Laments’ by George Hagen *****

Howard and Julia Lament are in search of the perfect place in which to raise their family. With the birth of their first child, who is then lost in a tragic hospital mix up, they take in the child left by the mother who who kidnapped and lost their son. They name him Will, Julia believing that a child’s name should be one which fits their purpose in life. Will is the glue that holds the often precarious family together. Howard and Julia begin a globe-crossing search to find the perfect place in which to live with their family, a place free of danger, prejudice and full of opportunity.

Some of the funniest episodes of the book are the adjustments to life in whatever country they alight in. Despite its grave beginning, this is in parts a very funny book. The episode in which, on an ocean liner whilst making the move to England, they celebrate the equator crossing is delightfully revealing of the family.

Eventually, twins Julius and Marcus are born into the family, and as is the case, they have names that perfectly describe their own particular force of existence. Will remains the stable center of the family though, with a quiet strength that the adults often can not achieve. With so many moves, the family that had such lofty ideals begins to unravel. With the final stop in New Jersey, they are barely held together, and barely existing financially. With an unexpected tragedy and the appearance of Rose, Julia’s mother, they may find the way to survival and maybe not an ideal life, but rather a life in which they can come back together as a family.

Rating: 5 stars