JG (The Introverted Reader)'s Reviews > East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
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's review
Oct 02, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, classics, own, 4_stars, z_author_american, banned-challenged, covers_i_like, on_the_screen, z_read_in_2011, reviewed, z_setting_us, titles_i_like
Read from September 06 to 22, 2011

I'm wimping out on this synopsis. It's on the book page.

I am surprised by how much I liked this book. I had to read Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath for school, and I pretty much hated them both. Of course, I hated almost everything I had to read for school, so I don't know if that says more about Steinbeck or about me. Either way, I was left with bad memories of Steinbeck.

I have several friends on GoodReads comment on how much they love this book, so when I found this edition with this cool retro cover at a library book sale, I went ahead and picked it up. It would probably have languished for a few more years in my stacks if I hadn't decided to read it for Banned Books Week. (See, book challengers? You are only hurting your case and giving authors publicity. Leave it alone, and a lot of books will fade into obscurity).

Anyway, I started to love this from the first page. Who could resist this prose?

"I remember that the Gabilan Mountains to the east of the valley were light gay mountains full of sun and loveliness and a kind of invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother. They were beckoning mountains with a brown grass love. The Santa Lucias stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding--unfriendly and dangerous. I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east. Where I ever got such an idea I cannot say, unless it could be that the morning came over the peaks of the Gabilans and the night drifted back from the ridges of the Santa Lucias. It may be that the birth and death of the day had some part in my feeling about the two ranges of mountains."

I was blown away. Where was the grim author who had written such depressing books that I had been forced to read against my will? This wasn't the same guy, surely!

And that was kind of how I continued on through the book. Oh, it got dark and grim (more on that momentarily), but Steinbeck can write! Who knew?

Let me just jump right in with Cathy. What a psycho bitch. Seriously. I don't know if they used words like psychopath back in the day, but she really is. My status update after she is introduced: "Wow. *blinkblink* Cathy." That said with wide, surprised eyes. She certainly made her mark on me in a hurry. She is just pure evil.

My edition was deceptively thin, so I didn't realize it was over 500 pages of tiny font until I'd gotten a good start. Still, I made my way through this quicker than I expected to. Cathy was the character that I felt the strongest about, but I'm also intrigued by Caleb. He's the one who is truly struggling to be a better person. He thinks that he was born evil, yet he still tries to fight it and be good. I have much more respect for him than for Aron, who just pretended that evil didn't exist and so of course it couldn't describe him. Cal has a bit of "Jacob wrestling the angel" in him.

I find myself almost wishing that I had read this in school. There's so much to mull over and discuss here. I think my younger self would have hated the ending, and even now I wasn't immediately taken with it. But as time goes on, I keep chewing on it, thinking it over, and liking it more and more. Really, it's sneaking it's way onto a special new list I'll have in my head called "Strongest Ending to a Novel." Right now it's all alone on the list, but I'm sure I could come up with some others if I had to.

There are so many things I loved about this book. I loved the philosophical conversations between Lee and Samuel. I loved that I could follow along with them! They had a way of suddenly getting me to see something in a new light. I loved that Samuel Hamilton loved his land even though it wasn't very good, and the way he loved to invent things. I loved watching his son Tom struggle to become himself. I loved that Lee made me think about my expectations and how they affect my perceptions. I loved how Adam made me think about how we choose to either move on or not, because it is always a choice.

I highly recommend this when you're in the mood for a book that will actually make you think rather than just help you escape. We all know I love escapism, but sometimes even I need something meatier, and this certainly fit the bill.
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Reading Progress

09/10/2011 page 79
15.0% "Wow. *blinkblink* Cathy." 2 comments
03/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Jessika Seriously one of my all-time favorite books. Hope you enjoy it!

JG (The Introverted Reader) Oh, good, that gives me hope! I haven't had a whole lot of luck with Steinbeck, but I've heard this one's good, so I'm reading it for Banned Books Week.

Dani (The Pluviophile Reader) One of my all time favourites too! I hope you enjoy it!

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