Monday, May 20, 2013

Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart

This is a haunting novel.

When the rural sheriff and local doctor respond to the suicide of a fellow known to be a recluse and somewhat strange, they accidentally find another body – buried in the floor of the barn.

From this opening, Baart weaves two stories. The reader follows them in alternating chapters. The one story is in the present and follows the doctor and his attempt to find the identity of the young girl found buried. The other story is from the past and follows a girl as she grows up through high school.

The novel is haunting because you think you know that the two stories must intersect. You just don't know how.

Although the novel is generally well written, I did have a couple issues with it. I thought the epilogue unreasonable. The family apparently waited at least two months to have the graveside service for the recovered body. I don't think they would wait that long. The other unreasonable aspect of the epilogue was the drastic change in the relationship between the doctor and his wife. While readers are given many, details about the troubled marriage earlier in the novel, poof, at the end, all is changed – in about two months.

My biggest disappointment is the lack of Christian influence in the book. A couple of the characters “used to go to church” or something, but that was about it. There was so much potential in the novel for readers to be confronted with the power and comfort of the gospel. But it was not there. (I expected Christianity because the novel is published under the Christian imprint of Simon & Schuster, Howard Books.)

Yes, it is a haunting novel. It also left me dissatisfied.

Nicole Baart was born and raised in a small town in Iowa. She and her husband have three young sons. After the adoption of their infant son, Nicole discovered a deep passion for global issues and co-founded a nonprofit organization, One Body One Hope, that works alongside a church and orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia.

Howard Books (the Christian imprint of Simon & Schuster), 368 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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