Out of Touch is the story of a family – a family who can’t forgive; a family who can’t forget; a family struggling to heal. The son, Michael, escapes to New York, marries, and has a son, discovering freedom in a new life. Meanwhile the daughter, Ava, stays at home out of guilt to care for her mother. The siblings remain estranged for years but it all comes to a head the year Ava is knocked down by a car. They both receive a letter from their father who deserted them as children telling them he wants to meet up as he is dying. Will they be able to overcome their negative feelings about each other and come together after all the years apart?
The story takes place in the year following the arrival of the letters. Ava forms a friendship with the man who knocked her down after he brings her flowers in hospital; Michael finally starts listening to Layla, his wife, when she starts writing a short story about what life could look like.
Author, Haleh Agar, fills in the back stories of all the characters and helps the reader realise that it is too easy to blame our parents for all our faults and bad decisions and there comes a time when the only way forward is forgiveness. Agar explores the different relationships involved in family life; how easily it can all fall apart and yet with love can be put back together.
Born and raised in Canada, Agar left her homeland to teach English literature at international schools in Bahrain, Singapore and most recently, London. She has been published in literary magazines and journals and won the London Magazines inaugural essay competition for her narrative essay ‘On Writing Ethnic Stories’. However, this, her first novel, is probably best read over a couple of days as, although an intriguing premise with familial relationships everyone is familiar with, it doesn’t really go anywhere and sort of ‘fizzles out’ towards the end.
That said, Agar is a novelist with potential, with a well-written if not entirely well-rounded debut.