Book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Published: The Viking Press, 1952
Buy it: Amazon
I've heard a lot of great things about East of Eden over the last few months. This was the first Steinbeck novel I've read and it will certainly not be the last. A group that I belong to over on Goodreads started discussing this book, so I figured why not. I've been hearing enough about it, might as well give it a shot. Since I started doing my 50 books a year challenge back in 2006, I made sure that many of the books I was reading were classics that I'd never gotten around to. There are many that I've been very surprised with as far as how much I enjoyed them, while there have been others that made me want to stab myself in the eye (cough::The Scarlet Letter::cough). When I started East of Eden, I thought it was a decent book but I wasn't sure what it was about the story that I was enjoying. It kept my attention enough to keep me reading about 50 pages a day. About halfway through, I started to really get into it. There wasn't much of anything in it that kept me on the edge of me seat, it was just simply great writing. It was easy to read but I didn't feel like he dumbed anything down either. I felt that the details Steinbeck gave about each character or moment were just right. The book is on the large side at 602 pages but I never found myself feeling overwhelmed by its size.
The story is a more modern day (comparatively, anyway) take on the classic bible stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Good and Evil. I'm not really a religious person, so I was a bit hesitant on reading this when I was first introduced to it. Growing up, I attended church pretty much every Sunday until I made my confirmation in 8th grade. I was forced to go by my parents and I was not really into it much. I tried reading the bible once when I was sick but only got through the first 2 or 3 books. While there were the obvious similarities to bible stories, this was not a book about religion at all. Everything that happened in East of Eden felt very real to me from the characters emotions to their flaws. Each character was so greatly developed, I feel as if I've come to know them. The relationship between Adam Trask and his son Cal just broke my heart. Without giving anything away for those of you who haven't had the privilege of reading this yet, the very last chapter was one of the most powerful passages I've read in quite awhile. I also just loved the Trask family's servant, Lee. He was the wise man who really kept the family together. Overall, a really enjoyable read that got me thinking a lot about my own relationships with my family and friends. It has been awhile since a book really kept me thinking. I almost don't want to go pick up my next book after this. I need a little time to let the beauty of East of Eden sink in.
My rating: 5 stars. Go read this immediately!