15 May 2013

Review: Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart

When Jim Sparks is found hanging in his barn, Dr Lucas Hudson is called in to act as coroner. It’s pretty clear that Sparks has committed suicide, but the discovery of a human skeleton buried in the floor of the barn is unexpected. Is it Angela, Jim’s daughter, who disappeared eight years ago? Lucas finds an inscribed ring on the barn floor and decides to keep it as a peace offering for his wife, Jenna. Their marriage has been slowly failing since Angela disappeared, and he hopes the ring will provide some closure and help restore their broken relationship.

Meg Painter and Dylan Reid are high school students in Sutton. She’s intelligent, athletic and popular; he’s the guy from the wrong side of the tracks, but they are best friends until all-American neighbour Jess starts dating Meg, and she doesn’t understand her feelings.

The two stories run side by side, although it isn’t initially apparent how or when they will link. And both stories were equally intriguing, because I knew there had to be a link, and when I realised what it was… well, I didn’t see that coming. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. The second half of the novel is bittersweet, as you can see where the story is going yet it's like a runaway train: there is nothing that can be done to change the inevitable.

Nicole Baart writes gritty stories with characters making difficult decisions, and Sleeping in Eden is no exception. She evokes strong emotion, not through melodrama but by placing her characters in situations that just could happen and where there is no easy or obvious choice. Her writing is beautiful, evoking images and emotions in just a few well-chosen words.

Sleeping in Eden isn't typical Christian fiction, even though it’s published by Howard Books, Christian imprint. There are a couple of swear words and Lucas makes a morally questionable decision in keeping the ring. There are a few unanswered questions, and a couple of characters whose stories aren’t finished. Despite this, Sleeping in Eden is a poignant tale of love and hope, beautifully written and a story that will be remembered. Recommended.

Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Nicole Baart at her websiteFor those who'd like to know more about the author (or the story behind that very cool cover), Nicole Baart was interviewed at the Women's Fiction Writers blog.

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