Friday, September 19, 2008

The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going

Main character: 10-year-old (almost 11) Eve
Location: a small town in upstate New York
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: J Fiction, Fantasy, Death, Grieving

I picked this book up after a couple of teens told me they had read it and enjoyed it.

Evie is mourning her mother, who died of cancer not long ago. Her father, too, is in mourning, and their grief has isolated them from each other. Evie's father, an orchard worker, has bought an apple orchard that is regarded as cursed by the people in the town. Evie is not happy at having to leave her Michigan home and is even less happy when she discovers that their new house faces the cemetery. There's a funeral going on as they pass the cemetery, and only one pale-faced boy notices them as they drive past. As Evie slowly begins to learn more about her new home, some strange things begin to happen--things that would seem natural in the stories that her mother used to tell her but which her father tells her flatly can't really exist.

Evie meets the pale-faced boy in the cemetery, playing among the headstones. He introduces himself as Alex, and tells her that he just recently died of leukemia--it was his funeral that she saw when they first came to town. Maggie, the elderly sister of the man who previously owned the orchard, gives Evie a box. It's a present he left with Maggie before he died, telling her to give it to Eve when she came. But Evie never met the old man, so how could he know that she would be coming? The box contains an old seed which just might have come from the Garden of Eden. If Evie plants it, will she be able to see her mother again?

This is a beautiful little book, full of loss and grieving, but also with hope and healing. Like Pieces of Georgia by Jennifer Bryant, Evie is missing a vibrant mother and finding it difficult to connect with an uncommunicative father. There is a poignant moment when her father confesses that sometimes he would hide in the shadows listening to Evie and her mother tell each other stories and wishing that he could join them. The revelation that her father sometimes felt left out gives Evie a bit of insight into him and draws them closer together. The biggest mystery--how did the former owner know about Evie--is finally answered in a birthday card that her mother wrote before she died. It wound up being a much simpler explanation than I was imagining, but no less satisfying.

No comments: