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Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

Currently reading

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Rebecca West, Christopher Hitchens
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Susanna Clarke
Already Dead
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Thom Hartmann
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The Garden of Eve - K.L. Going Garden variety message-drive fantasy for younger readers, of the sort in which the fantasy elements are merely tools or metaphors for conveying some Wisdom to Grow On about valuing your family (they love you! even if they don't show it and in fact totally neglect you!), living in the real world, not grieving excessively, and those sort of ideas that seem to inhabit Books Where the Mother Dies. Oh, and don't mess around with supernatural crap, it is bad. That attitude and inclusion of homeschooling -- not that the father seems to ever actually teach Eve anything -- made me wonder if Going were a Christian author, but I couldn't stand to look at her hideous site (http://klgoing.com) long enough to try to figure that out.

Basic story: When Eve (thus named for the sake of the titular "cleverness") is ten her warm, imaginative artist mother Tally dies. Her father becomes withdrawn and disinterested in anything but his gardening work. He buys a dead orchard from an old man in a small New York town and takes Eve away from Michigan and all her relatives to live in a shabby old house that everyone thinks is cursed. No one will talk to them except the storekeeper whose brother was the previous owner. Eve's dad says she will be homeschooled but actually works all day in the dead orchard while Eve lies in bed in a state of depression. He doesn't bother to unpack or buy groceries. Eve's only company is a boy in the graveyard who tells her he is a ghost only she can see. When Eve learns that the dead old owner of the property left her a seed his explorer father claimed was from the Garden of Eden and caused his sister Eve to disappear after her mother died 70 years ago, Eve and Alex (the ghost boy) become determined to plant the seed and have it take them to the garden of paradise. But will it really be a paradise, and should they stay there?

I won't spoil it for you, but these last questions are not treated with any degree of suspense. Despite the repeated mentions of curses, ghosts, unexplained disappearances, decaying houses, and dead trees, this is not a scary book. It pretty quickly becomes clear that we aren't even going for "ominous". The core of the story is Eve and her father coping with the loss of Tally and turning back to one another. The supernatural elements fit rather awkwardly. I think the book would have been better for being left to percolate in the author's mind for a couple months and then given a ruthless rewrite. I suspect that the cursed seeds and disappearing sister really belong in another story.