Eden Malcom lies in a bed, unable to move or to speak, imprisoned in his own mind. His wife Mary spends every day on the sofa in his hospital room. He has never even met their young daughter. And he will never again see the friend and fellow soldier who didn't make it back home--and who narrates the novel. But on Christmas, the one day Mary is not at his bedside, Eden's re-ordered consciousness comes flickering alive. As he begins to find a way to communicate, some troubling truths about his marriage--and about his life before he went to war--come to the surface. Is Eden the same man he once was: a husband, a friend, a father-to-be? What makes a life worth living? A piercingly insightful, deeply felt meditation on loyalty and betrayal, love and fear, Waiting for Eden is a tour de force of profound humanity.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.30(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from WAITING FOR EDEN:
Excerpted from "Waiting for Eden"
Copyright © 2018 Elliot Ackerman.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s conversation about Waiting for Eden, the astounding new novel from National Book Award finalist Elliot Ackerman.
1. Who is the narrator of the novel? How does he know Mary and Eden’s story? How does Ackerman’s decision to narrate from this point of view deepen the reader’s understanding of Mary and Eden’s lives?
2. Examine the symbolism of the cockroaches. How does Eden understand their presence? What do they represent to him?
3. How would you describe Eden’s level of consciousness? What does he register about his reality? To what extent is his perception of reality distorted? Is there anything he is sure of? Are the nurses correct in their assessment of Eden’s level of consciousness?
4. Consider the theme of pain as it is depicted in the novel. Which characters experience pain, and what type of pain do they experience? Do you understand Eden’s pain to be greater than the pain of the other characters? Why or why not?
5. Explore Mary and Eden’s relationship. How did they meet? What were the early months of their relationship like? When and why does a rift form in their marriage?
6. Examine Gabe’s character. Who is he? Why does he take an active interest in Eden? How does Eden feel about him?
7. What is SERE school? How was Eden’s experience at SERE school similar to his experience in the hospital?
8. Explore the theme of time as it is depicted in the novel. How do the different characters perceive the passage of time? What are the characters waiting for? Can you identify any key symbols of time or waiting?
9. Why do you think Mary pursues the narrator? Is she remorseful about what happens between them, or does she stand by her decision?
10. Explore Mary’s feelings about Eden’s fate. Does she think it’s best for Eden to die, or does she want to prolong his life? Does her opinion on this matter change over the course of the novel? Consider, as you answer this question, the themes of abandonment and betrayal.
11. Examine Eden’s dream in which he reunites with the narrator. Where does this reunion take place? How would you characterize their attitude toward one another? What does Eden mean by his assertion, “You know it’s easiest on us” (137)? Do you agree with him?
12. The novel concludes with the final lines of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. How does this quotation inform your interpretation of the novel and its resolution?