On a chilly morning in the Northwest Iowa town of Blackhawk, Dr. Lucas Hudson is filling in for the vacationing coroner on a seemingly open-and-shut suicide case. His own life is crumbling around him, but when he unearths the body of a woman buried in the barn floor beneath the hanging corpse, he realizes this terrible discovery could change everything. . . .
Years before Lucas ever set foot in Blackhawk, Meg Painter met Dylan Reid. It was the summer before high school and the two quickly became inseparable. Although Meg’s older neighbor, Jess, was the safe choice, she couldn’t let go of Dylan no matter how hard she tried.
Caught in a web of jealousy and deceit that spiraled out of control, Meg’s choices in the past ultimately collide with Lucas’s discovery in the present, weaving together a taut story of unspoken secrets and the raw, complex passions of innocence lost.
It is difficult to know how to review Sleeping in Eden. We have two stories, told in alternating chapters, which at first don’t appear to have a connection. The first, concerning Lucas Hudson, takes place in the current day. The second, judging from the music references, seems to take place during the 1990s. I both liked and disliked both. Less than one third of the way through this book, I was bored with the story of Lucas and Jenna’s collapsing marriage. Despite being an educated doctor, Lucas doesn’t appear to possess much sense and makes more than one inexplicably bad decision. During his story track I wanted more about the murder mystery and less about his home life. Track two, regarding Meg and Dylan was much more interesting, and I was less than halfway through when I worked out the connection between the two tracks.
Once I made that connection, the novel became more interesting. Now that I knew what was going to happen, I wanted to know how. As much as I loathe the analogy, given a couple of recent international events, it felt like a freight train. The plot moved faster and faster, until it was hurtling to its tragic but inevitable conclusion. I walked away from it bawling my eyes out, not because of the impact Sleeping in Eden had on me but because it was so very sad.
Now for a word of caution. This novel is published by Howard Books, a Christian publishing division of Simon & Schuster. It was difficult, however, for me to find any specific Christian content in it. None of the characters are Christian or come to know Christ. Lucas and his wife have apparently lost their faith due to a traumatic event in their lives, and there is no indication of it returning. The teenagers do some typically teenager things, but none are Christian or discuss any faith-related topic. There are themes of abuse, addiction, adultery, and pre-marital sex, all of which could be included in an obviously Christian novel. (See my review on One Sunday, also published by Howard.) In conclusion, however, I can’t help thinking that a different publisher in the Simon & Schuster stable would have been more suitable for this title.
Thank you to Howard Books for my free electronic copy of Sleeping in Eden, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Publisher: Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: May 2013
Page Count: 368