Almost Eden

Almost Eden

by Anita Horrocks
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

It is the hot prairie summer of her twelfth year and Elsie is at a crossroads. Her beloved mother who is mentally ill has been hospitalized, and Elsie thinks that the breakdown is all her fault. Mental illness is simply not discussed in Elsie’s close-knit Mennonite community and she is rudderless. Nothing Elsie does seems to go right: there’s no pleasing

Overview

It is the hot prairie summer of her twelfth year and Elsie is at a crossroads. Her beloved mother who is mentally ill has been hospitalized, and Elsie thinks that the breakdown is all her fault. Mental illness is simply not discussed in Elsie’s close-knit Mennonite community and she is rudderless. Nothing Elsie does seems to go right: there’s no pleasing her bossy older sister; she forgets to feed the cat, so her father gives it away; she’s supposed to watch out for her younger sister, but she lets her come home alone from the swimming pool (despite the lurking menace of a weird stranger around town); and she bargains with God to make her mother well again — to no evident avail.

Elsie’s conversations with God, her struggle to overcome guilt, and her honest desire to prove herself are laced with a wicked wit and clarity of vision. Almost Eden is a beautiful portrait of a town, a family, and a young woman willing to challenge the things that don’t make sense to her, and to fix the things that don’t seem right.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Twelve-year-old Elsie prays every night. She is confused by the typically adolescent behavior of her friends, the increased attention of the local boys, her changing relationships with her sisters, her emotionally distanced and reserved father, and, most of all, her mother's mental illness. She needlessly blames herself for her mother's return to Eden, the facility down the road where shock therapy is used as a remedy for depression. When her prayers remain unanswered and her mother's condition remains unimproved, she turns her back on God and her Mennonite faith, but still hopes for a sign that a higher power is watching over her and her family. When Elsie and her younger sister flee the unwanted attention of a sexual predator and seek refuge in an abandoned farm overnight, Elsie gets her sign in a vision of the stars. Overcome by the experience, she formulates a plan to rescue her mother from Eden and take her to see the same night sky. Her plans do not result in the outcome she expects, but a resulting reunion of family and friends dancing in the rain in the middle of the night is even more idyllic. The use of words in Plautdietsch, or Mennonite Low German, small town details, and a summer setting make the novel evocative of a simpler, more insular, time and place. The author's honest treatment of mental illness attests to the naivete of the narrator and the health care practices enacted just a short time ago. The arrival of the pedophile feels a bit contrived but serves as a tool to help Elsie see the beauty of her world—despite its imperfections. 2006, Tundra Books, Ages 10 to 15.
—Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.
KLIATT - Krista Bush
In times of trouble many of us have tried wishful thinking and bargaining with God. Twelve-year-old Elsie is no different in trying to make deals. Her life has just been tilted on its side by her mother's entry into a mental hospital called, ironically, Eden in order to treat her severe depression. Elsie rides her bike without holding on to the handlebars as far as she can, telling herself that each block that she succeeds in not using her hands means she can make bigger and bigger wishes that will make everything better. Elsie carries a lot of guilt, feeling in some incongruous way responsible for her mother's sickness. If only she had been a better daughter; so she tries as hard as she possibly can to be the perfect daughter now. Elsie prays to God, vital to her Mennonite town, asking for her mother to come home in exchange for Elsie's good behavior and sacrifices. As she continues to bargain with God, things worsen in her relationships, not only with her mother, but with other family members, her friends, and boys. Angry that things are just getting worse, Elsie renounces her faith in God. It takes a treacherous situation to act as a catalyst that ultimately helps Elsie, who is desperately trying to make sense of the big picture. Author of Topher, Breath of a Ghost, and What They Don't Know, Horrocks's story is a fictionalized retelling of growing up in a small Mennonite community. It is about hard times, tough questions, wavering of faith, and finally reaffirmation.
From the Publisher
Praise for Topher:

“[Topher] gives mystery fans ages 10 to 12 exactly what they want… [It] can stimulate a young reader’s curiosity (and pulse rate) from start to finish.”
Quill & Quire

“…a dramatic, suspenseful story that will keep you wondering and guessing right to the end.”
Lethbridge Herald

Praise for What They Don’t Know:

“…riveting…”
London Free Press

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781770490338
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
06/05/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Anita Horrocks has published three previous award-winning novels for young adults, Topher, What They Don’t Know, and Breath of a Ghost. Almost Eden is her first novel to draw on her own Mennonite background growing up in southern Manitoba. Anita has two stepchildren and two grandchildren. She and her husband live in Lethbridge, Alberta.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >