Extinction by Josephine Wilson, tells the story of Professor Frederick Lothian, a well-renowned instructor of engineering, is now living in an assisting living facility. His wife Martha has been gone for two. His daughter, Caroline, is adopted. She studies animals that are extinct or are in danger of being extinct. Caroline is also an aboriginal. His son, Callum, lives in a facility that tends to those with physical or mental challenges. Callum was involved in a car accident 13 years prior that left him brain damaged.
Frank was a well respected instructed at uni and now he’s been sent to live in a retirement home that allows people to have their own apartments (rooms really) and carry on with their lives as they always have.
But Frank is sad for a number of reasons. He’s gone from a great job, a good wife (who drove him crazy) and raising two kids, to living alone and the glory years of teaching long behind him. Frank thinks a lot about life and how it’s passed. With his wife gone, his connection to happier days is his daughter Carolina, who is dealing with issues of her own.
Then there’s Jan from next door. This was one character I didn’t care for but she served a purpose for Frank. Jan learns that her five-year-old grandson might have to go into foster care if no one can take him in. And to avoid this Jan agrees to be his legal guardian. Frank wonders how is she going to take care of a five-year-old in small living quarters. But to keep from losing her grandson to the system, she will do what she needs to. This determination relights a fire within Frank and the course of the book begins to change, and in a good way.
As mentioned, Frank daughter is adopted and was an only child until Callum came long. Carolina is also an aboriginal (and her adopted parents are white). She is trying to cope with being adopted, even though she’s in her 40’s (there’s something about being adopted us, adoptees, never get over and it because before we’re adopted we’re abandoned). On top of being adopted, she learns she’s aboriginal, or of the indigenous people. Her being adopted and being part of the indigenous people has driven her to study extinct animals. I believe this is because, she herself, feel like she’s is extinct. But the extinction part, to me, is more towards the history of indigenous people.
The book is written in the third person but in a way, every description (without being overly described) gives a clear picture of what is taken place, the set up of the room and other descriptives given in the book to allow the reader to feel what the person being spoken at that time, is feeling. Not only feeling on the inside, but the feeling of an object being described.
The stories the author tells when taking us back to the life of Frank and Martha and their kids are so well written that you are able to connect current day with past events.
But of all the things the author does with the book, she makes us realize how fast life can pass you by and if you stop living because of your current situation. It’s a hard pill to swallow to know that one day we will all be old and there’s nothing we can do about it. But we don’t have to be a prisoner of our circumstances.
I think everyone should read this book. If you’re young, learn something about getting old. If you’re older, you will find yourself thinking about your life gone-by. With a variety of characters in the book, readers will be able to relate to one of them. For me, I was able to relate to both Frank and Carolina.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!