I have a great fondness for cult dystopias, particularly ones
with apocalyptic overtones. So I was delighted to have the chance to
read Pete Hautman's Eden West. This fine book combines excellent plot
and believable characters with riveting ethical and moral questions.
"I know that the World is a terrible place, filled with wild
animals and evil men and wicked women. I know that the Beast stalks
the streets of the cities, and the canyons and footpaths beyond, and
that only the strongest and wisest of men can resist his seductive
ways. I know that the End Days are coming."
Jacob has lived in the walled in community called Nodd for most
of his young life, ever since his parents gave up their worldly
possessions so the family could join the Grace. They are among the
few who will ascend to Paradise at the End Days while the terrible
wrath of an angry God descends upon the rest of humanity. He
considers himself quite fortunate that he will be spared the horrors
and pain. He can't imagine leading any other kind of life...
...until he meets some outsiders. First there's Tobias, a teen
who reluctantly enters with his mother and pregnant sister, unwilling
to adapt to a lifestyle he considers bizarre. Then there's Lynna, a
very pretty girl who lives on the neighboring ranch. When she manages
to entice him to cross the fence and introduces him to stuff like soda
and modern appliances (and desire) he finds himself quite conflicted.
Part of him fears he has strayed far enough to burn in Hell for all
eternity; the seemingly stronger part of him wants to stray further.
A severe winter tests the whole community. A rogue wolf
slaughters their sheep. Babies are still born. People defect to the
outside world. Daily, it seems, the Grace are beset by tests of their
Describing the book, Hautman said, "Faith, family, and love are
among the great forces that drive us as human beings. Eden West is
about what might happen when those forces come into conflict within
the pressure-cooker culture of an isolated community."
It's a premise beautifully explored in an unforgettable coming
of age story.
On a personal note, great things are happening in the Veazie Community
School. We have a new principal, Matt Cyr, with enthusiasm for
creating new programs to meet needs and building ties with the
community. Kristen and her PTO posse provided an excellent start of
school year spaghetti dinner and show. Heather Wilmot came all the way
from Wiscasset to do a presentation on the kind of visioning team I'd
like to get going in Veazie.
Great big shout outs go out to Matt, the Veazie Community School PTO,
Julia Emily Hathaway
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