Add your rating See all 7 kid reviews. Rowan is a second child, someone who should not be allowed to exist. As she struggles to figure out whom to trust, she moves ever closer to a startling secret that could change civilization forever. In any case, the novel pushes the limits of believability. The world-building doesn't seem to make much sense, and coincidence seems to be the major motivator of the plot.
Many readers will no doubt be attracted by the story's breathless earnestness, but the more critical among them may roll their eyes. Why are books about dystopias so popular now?
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Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids. Familiar dystopian tale pushes limits of believability. Joey Graceffa Science Fiction Sign in or join to save for later. Based on 2 reviews. Based on 7 reviews. Get it now Searching for streaming and purchasing options Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free. Get it now on Searching for streaming and purchasing options A lot or a little? The parents' guide to what's in this book. Rowan's father comes home drunk one night. Continue reading Show less. Stay up to date on new reviews.
Get full reviews, ratings, and advice delivered weekly to your inbox. User Reviews Parents say Kids say. Shortly after Cathy gives birth to twin boys, she shoots Adam in the shoulder and flees. Adam recovers but falls into a deep depression. He is roused out of it enough to name and raise his sons with the help of his Cantonese cook, Lee, and Samuel, who helps Adam name the boys Aron and Caleb, after different characters in the Bible.
Lee becomes a good friend and adopted family member. Lee, Adam, and Samuel have long philosophical talks, particularly about the story of Cain and Abel , which Lee maintains has been incorrectly translated in English-language bibles. Lee tells about how his relatives in San Francisco, a group of Chinese scholars, spent two years studying Hebrew so they might discover what the moral of the Cain and Abel story actually was.
Their discovery that the Hebrew word "Timshel" means "thou mayest" becomes an important symbol in the novel, meaning that mankind is neither compelled to pursue sainthood nor doomed to sin, but rather has the power to choose. Meanwhile, Cathy has become a prostitute at the most respectable brothel in the city of Salinas. She renames herself "Kate Albey" and embarks on a devious — and successful — plan to ingratiate herself with the madam, murder her, and inherit the business.
She makes her new brothel infamous as a den of sexual sadism. After Charles dies of natural causes, Adam visits her to give her money Charles left her. Kate renounces him and the entire human race, and shows him pictures of the brothel's customers, all pillars of the community.
Adam finally sees her for what she is and pities her, leaving Kate to hate him. Adam's sons, Caleb "Cal" and Aron — echoing Cain and Abel — grow up oblivious of their mother's situation. Aron is virtuous and dutiful, Cal wild and rebellious. At a very early age, Aron meets a girl, Abra Bacon, who is from a well-to-do family, and the two fall in love. Although there are rumors around town that Cal and Aron's mother is not dead but is actually still in Salinas, the boys do not yet know that she is Kate. Samuel finally dies of old age and is mourned by the entire town.
Inspired by Samuel's inventiveness, Adam starts an ill-fated business venture and loses almost all of the family fortune. The boys, particularly Aron, are horrified that their father is now the town laughingstock and that they are now mocked by their peers for his failure.
As the boys reach the end of their school days, Cal decides to pursue a career in farming, and Aron goes to college to become an Episcopal priest. Cal, restless and tortured by guilt about his very human failings, shuns everyone around him and takes to wandering around town late at night. During one of these ramblings, he discovers that his mother is alive and the madam of a brothel. He goes to see her, and she spitefully tells him they are just alike.
Cal replies that she is simply afraid and leaves. Cal decides to "buy his father's love" by going into business with Samuel's son Will, who is now a successful automobile dealer. Cal's plan is to make his father's money back, capitalizing on World War I by selling beans grown in the Salinas Valley to nations in Europe, for a considerable premium.
Return to Eden (novel) - Wikipedia
Aron returns from Stanford University for the holiday. There is tension in the air, because Aron has not yet told their father that he intends to drop out of college. Rather than let Aron steal the moment, Cal gives Adam the money at dinner, expecting his father to be proud of him. Adam refuses to accept it, however, and tells Cal to give it back to the poor farmers he exploited. I would have been so happy if you could have given me — well, what your brother has — pride in the thing he's doing, gladness in his progress.
Money, even clean money, doesn't stack up with that. In a fit of jealousy, Cal takes Aron to see their mother, knowing it will be a shock to him. Sure enough, Aron immediately sees Kate for who she is and recoils from her in disgust. Wracked with self-hatred, Kate signs her estate over to Aron and commits suicide.
Aron, his idealistic worldview shattered, enlists in the Army to fight in World War I. He is killed in battle in the last year of the war, and Adam suffers a stroke upon hearing the news from Lee. Cal, who began a relationship with Aron's idealised girl friend, Abra Bacon, after Aron went to war, tries to convince her to run away with him. She instead persuades him to return home. The novel ends with Lee pleading with a bedridden and dying Adam to forgive his only remaining son. Adam responds by forgiving Cal nonverbally and then saying the word "Timshel", giving Cal the choice to break the cycle and conquer sin.
The book explores themes of depravity, beneficence, love , and the struggle for acceptance, greatness, and the capacity for self-destruction and especially of guilt and freedom. It ties these themes together with references to and many parallels with the biblical Book of Genesis  especially Genesis Chapter 4, the story of Cain and Abel.
Steinbeck's inspiration for the novel comes from the fourth chapter of Genesis, verses one through sixteen, which recounts the story of Cain and Abel. In the novel, Adam, Samuel, and Lee have a significant conversation in which they realize that since Abel died before he had children, they themselves are the descendants of Cain.
However, this does not correspond to the text of Genesis, which states that contemporary humans are descended neither from Cain nor Abel, but from Adam and Eve's third son, Seth. As he wrote the novel, Steinbeck went through a number of possible titles for the book, including "The Salinas Valley," the working title from the beginning; "My Valley," after a Texas businessman suggested he make it more universal; "Down to the Valley"; and then, after he decided to incorporate the Biblical allusion directly into the title, "Cain Sign.
Steinbeck wrote to a friend after completing his manuscript, "I finished my book a week ago.
I have put all the things I have wanted to write all my life. Having done this I can do anything I want. Always I had this book waiting to be written.
Upon its release in September , the general reading public took East of Eden to its heart and quickly propelled it to the number one spot on the fiction best-seller list. People write as though it were their book. However, literary critics were not as gracious. The novel was not well received by critics, who found it heavy-handed and unconvincing, especially in its use of Biblical allusion.
In particular, critics found the character Cathy and her brutality to be wildly unbelievable and off-putting. Besides critiquing the major themes of the novel, others attacked his construction and narrative. For example, critics were perplexed at lack of unity in the novel as Steinbeck attempted to incorporate the stories of two families.
Critics also disparaged the symbolism as obvious, the narrative disorganized, and the characters unrealistic. These aspects are what the reading public loved, and what is widely acclaimed now by literary critics. East of Eden became an instant bestseller in November , a month after it was released, and is now considered one of Steinbeck's finest achievements. About 50, copies of the novel are sold each year, yet its popularity skyrocketed once again in after being named Oprah's Book Club pick. It gained the second spot on the best-seller list and remains exceedingly popular with the general reading public.
East of Eden was first published by Viking Press in September The first edition had two print runs: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. East of Eden First edition cover. This article needs additional citations for verification.