The Garden of Eve
by K. L. Going
- VOYA: 4Q4P J
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Sandpiper; Reprint edition (April 6, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0152066144
- ISBN-13: 978-0152066147
Evie has been going through a tough time since the death of her mother, so when her father gives up everything and buys an apple orchard in Beaumont, New York, she is reluctant to accompany him. Why does he want to take her away from the things that remind her of her mother? Loyalty to her father, however, wins out and Evie joins her father on the dilapidated farm. The people seem nice enough, however, until the farm is mentioned; Then they get quiet and begin to whisper about curses. While exploring the orchard, Evie notes that the trees really do look diseased and she wonders if her father will be able to revive them. Then she encounters a strange boy who claims he is dead. Evie is much too old for fairy tales and make believe, but something about the boy troubles her. As her father spends more and more time in the fields, tending to the diseased trees, Evie begins to feel abandoned and spends her time with the mysterious boy. When a kind woman at the local store gives her a seed for her birthday, Evie thinks maybe the town is a bit stranger than she had first thought, but she plants it anyway. Overnight, a huge tree grows, but only Evie and the “dead” boy seem able to see it. When the tree takes them to another place, Evie must make a harrowing decision between the past, the future, and the present.
At its core, Garden of Eve is about grief. As Evie struggles to cope with her mother’s death, she feels distant from her father, and his excitement over the orchard feels like a betrayal. Evie doesn’t understand how her father could want to be away from everything that reminds them of her mother. As he works long, grueling hours tending the trees, Evie is left alone with her sorrow. When her father loses her to the tree, however, they both realize that they need to come together in their grief, living neither in the past nor the future, but simply in the now.
Going is a master of words, and her story is full of lush images, vivid scenes, and heart-felt emotions. Evie’s sorrow is easy to relate to, and her conflicted feelings regarding her father are well articulated. Pacing, in particular, works well in this tale and helps create and maintain a tension and sense of mystery that will keep readers guessing. As Evie works to help the “ghost” boy, she learns to deal with her own grief, and she begins to understand her father’s need to immerse himself in work. The author’s use of metaphor enriches the story and will help create conversation between readers of all ages.