In Search of Eden (2007)
Author: Linda Nichols
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)/Gentle (Christian)
Miranda DeSpain’s life has been a rambling one; always on the move and unable to settle on any goals in life. Due to many setbacks in life, including being forced to give her baby up for adoption at the age of 15 and a missing father, Miranda isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to make anything of her life. When her overbearing mother passes away Miranda sets put on a course to find her long lost daughter, eventually arriving in the town of Abingdon, Virginia. As she settles in the charming small town, Miranda makes numerous friends, each with their own struggles. Among these friends is 11 year old Eden, niece of police lieutenant Joseph Williams. Despite initial suspicion romance develops between Joseph and Miranda. Miranda finds her way to the Lord and faith and forgiveness are shown to be the best answer to many of life’s problems. SPOILER: Not only does Miranda find her lost daughter, as shown in the prologue, she also finds answers to childhood mysteries and her long lost father in the small town of Abingdon.
Geographical Setting: Abingdon, Virginia
Time Period: Contemporary (2007)
In this Christy Award finalist Linda Nichols sets out a story rich with characters; even the minor characters have enough screen time to become likeable. The problems the characters face are familiar and realistic challenges; family problems, health conditions, adoption, lost family members and the journey of self-discovery. The novel is a decent length, allowing for a good bit of description and characterization. Though the writing style is simple and easy to read the book wanders on at a medium pace, giving the reader time to learn about the various characters’ struggles and the quaint town of Abingdon. The tone is hopeful, showing that faith can help people overcome and that forgiveness builds strong relationships. The setting of a small, friendly town gives the reader a feeling of strong community, family values and over-all coziness. Though there are situations such as teen pregnancy and childhood abuse they are described in a wholesome manner and not given to being overly detailed. There are many quotes from the NIV bible, which are given in order to draw attention to how many situations can be addressed by the word of God. Another element readers might enjoy is the depiction of the main character, Miranda, finding her way to salvation and her true self.
Read-alikes: Readers who like well developed characters, family and self discovery may want to read Summer of Light, by W. Dale Cramer. Steelworker Mick Brannigan is injured on the job and must become a stay at home father. Mick works to find himself and come to terms with his skepticism among a cast of interesting characters. A reader more interested in the themes of forgiveness, lost family members, colorful characters and small southern town settings might like Wrapped in Rain by Chalres Martin. Tucker Mason must overcome the negative experiences of his past and forgive those who have wronged him in order to pull his family and friends together and heal their lives before he’s left with nothing but his career. Those more interested self-discovery, the other side of adoption and romance may enjoy Songbird by Lisa Sampson. Main character Charmaine struggles with maintaining her relationship, self-doubt and the pain of being abandoned by her birth mother. Also set in a small southern town, this novel includes a cast of characters with realistic problems and personalities. Fans of Linda Nichols writing style and the theme of the healing power of faith and family may want to read The Pearl by Angela Hunt. A story of Diana Sheldon’s struggle to fix a family tragedy despite the costs or worsening situation, this novel shows how one can rely on the Lord to mend things. As a warning to those who may not care for it,The Pearl does involve science fiction (cloning) in the plot, though religion and faith are the overarching message. Painted Dresses by Tricia Hickman is a slower-paced novel, for those who enjoy a leisurely read. Gaylen Boatwright must find what she wants from life while she uncovers mysteries of her families past, while traveling in the South with her sisters. Another novel packed with colorful characters, this would be a good read for someone looking for similar themes but grittier Christian content than In Search of Eden.
Red Flags:Cancer, car wreck resulting in disability, death of a minor character. All of these are tastefully handled.