The Garden

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9780060556068: The Garden

In the beginning ...

There was the Serpent, there for Eve's awakening, and for all the days since. Teacher, mentor, companion, friend, and more. There was God. The Creator. Quick to anger. Dangerous. Majestic.

There was Adam: as God said, a joy to behold.

And there was Eve.

These four hold the future in their hands. And only Eve -- or perhaps the Serpent, too -- wonders what lies outside the Garden of Eden. Passionate, witty, beautifully drawn, and utterly unforgettable, The Garden, a debut novel, remakes and offers insights into a story that forms a cornerstone of our understanding.

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About the Author:

Educated at Smith and Columbia, Elsie V. Aidinoff has lived in Paris, Brussels, Hong Kong, London, and New York. She has been involved in education most of her life, starting in 1965 as a tutor in a junior high school with the New York City School Volunteer Program (now Learning Leaders). Since 1980, she has worked at the Children's Storefront School, a tuition-free independent school in Harlem, as a teacher, administrator, and trustee. The mother of four grown children, she lives in New York City with her husband, a lawyer.

From Booklist:

One of the world's oldest stories becomes new again in the hands of a 70-year-old first-time novelist. The setting is a lush, freshly formed Garden of Eden, where Eve is just awakening to the all-wise, feathered Serpent who is her guardian. Nearby, Adam is being raised by a cranky, white-bearded God intent on seeing that His creations adhere to His vision. But the Serpent has something far different in mind for its charge, and under the Serpent's painstaking tutelage, Eve begins to think and to question. Journeys with the Serpent outside the garden give Eve a breadth and depth of knowledge forbidden to Adam, who learns to fear a god who is both capricious and demanding.

Despite the Serpent's strenuous objections, God insists that Adam and Eve mate, and the event turns into a rape, for which Eve is loath to forgive either God or Adam. Only later, when the Serpent changes form, becomes a man, and makes love to Eve, is she prepared to accept her central role as the mother of humankind. Even then, however, she's still not ready to forgo her independence. Although the Serpent explains all the hardship that will come to her if she eats the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, she accepts the challenge to become a fully realized human, as does Adam, who, though lacking Eve's strength, also yearns to be his own person.

In an author's note, Aidinoff explains that she has drawn on lore that equates the Serpent to Wisdom, who is said to have been with God at the creation, and the smart, empathetic, even romantic Serpent will evoke the most response from teenagers (God is certainly one-dimensional by comparison). The story at times is overly descriptive. It is at its best during the dialogues between Eve and the Serpent, when age-old questions are asked and real answers are given--although not necessarily the answers that have been accepted for ages. For instance, when the Serpent asks Eve what she thinks of the songs of praise God has taught her and Adam, Eve wonders, "Why does God need to be adored all the time? We know he made the sea and the dry land and all the rest. Why does he have to hear it over and over again?" There's no doubt this book will upset some people, both in its depiction of God and because of its sexual scenes, which, though not salacious, are intense and uncompromising. Perhaps most disturbing is the scene in which God urges Adam to take Eve against her will. Some readers, however, will find the book liberating--a meditation on the role of humanity in the world and on the compromises people make when they choose freedom instead of obedience. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Elsie V. Aidinoff
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ISBN 10: 0060556064 ISBN 13: 9780060556068
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