February 2, 2011

Book Talk: Garden of Eve

After Evie's mother dies, her father decides to relocate to Beaumont New York- a long way from Michigan.  Evie doesn't want to leave her family and friends behind, and she can't stand the thought of not being able to visit her mother's grave.  Her father is moving to New York to become the owner of an apple orchard.  The orchard hasn't produced crops in years, but Evie's father is certain that with a little love and a lot of hard work, he can restore the apple orchard to glory.  When Evie and her father arrive in Beaumont, she has an eerie feeling.  On the way to her new house, they pass a funeral.  In the middle of a sea of mourners, Evie sees a little boy.  He is pale and withdrawn- almost ghostlike.  She remembers looking the same way after her mother died.   She misses her mother and her free spirit and love of magic and storytelling.  Now she is stuck in Beaumont with her hard working, realist father.  When Evie visits the local hardware store, she learns that the cemetery is right in her new backyard.  The woman at the hardware store tells her not to worry, that she grew up in the house that she is moving in to.  It turns out that this woman, Maggie,  is the sister of Rodney,  man who sold the house to her father.  People in town are skeptical about reviving the orchard, since they think it is haunted by the ghost of Maggie & Rodney's sister- it is rumored that Rodney killed Maggie and buried her in the orchard and that's why the orchard doesn't grow.
One night, Maggie shows up at Evie's house with a gift.  The gift is a seed.  When Evie takes the seed in her hand, it feels warm, and she has a strange vision- of a huge, beautiful tree.  Maggie tells Evie that her father found the seed long ago at the supposed site of The Garden of Eden.  Maggie's brother was certain that Evie would know what to do with the seed.  The next day while her father is working in the orchard, she looks out to see the same boy she saw at the funeral, playing in the cemetery across the road.  When she finally gets the courage to approach the boy, he tells her that his name is Alex and he is a ghost and he lives in the cemetery.  Alex and Evie form a friendship and together they decide to plant the mystery seed deep within the orchard in hopes of breaking the curse.  Evie is well on her way to solving the mystery of the orchard, the whereabouts of Maggie's dead sister and the true identity of Alex, the ghost across the street.   If only her mother were still alive, she would know what to do. When she plants the seed, her world changes- literally, and she may never see her father again.  Written by K.L Going, this mystery-suspense story may seem like a typical host story on the surface, but it carries a message of hope and happiness in the wake of losing someone you love.   K.L. Going was inspired to write this book after her husband's brother was killed.  As she and her family struggled to deal with the loss of a loved one, she started to think about how children come to terms with such loss and grief.  She describes death as a "dark and barren place- like a dark and twisted tree without blossoms."  The end had a twist that made be go "Ahhh..."- I didn't see it coming, but looking back, I should have seen the clues.  Kids who love a good mystery will eat this book up!  The Garden of Eve is in the running for the 2011-2012 Iowa Children's Choice Award! (Kelly Butcher 2011)
Read the first chapter of The Garden of Eve here.

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