I was thinking of using The Garden as the October book of the month for the student services blog (because it's in the libraries' collection and because I always like a good excuse to read YA fiction), but have to admit that I'm shying away because it is one of those extremely divisive books. It's just as well, though, as now I can write about it more informally.
The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff
In The Garden, a novel geared toward young adults, first-time author Elsie Aidinoff provides another perspective on the story of Adam and Eve. Things are not so cut-and-dry in Aidinoff's version. Her Eden is lush, but restrictive. The act of eating the apple is one of conscientious rebellion and the Serpent may not be encouraging Adam and Eve to do it...
The Garden is not the most well-written book, but it is engaging and thought-provoking (it would be a great book club book - divisiveness leads to good discussions, usually). Its focus is really on exploring issues of free will and personal responsibility. Eve is the novel's protagonist and it is she, and the Serpent, who are the most well-developed characters. God and Adam, unfortunately, are more like stock characters.
In her author's note, Aidinoff explains her inspiration for the novel and is quite open about her biases. If you're not sure whether The Garden is a book for you, read the author's note first.
To some extent I wish we could take away all the baggage of The Garden being about Adam and Eve and the Fall and just view the novel as a work of fiction for young adults (though I know, of course, that that's impossible). Aidinoff's Eve is a character that teens can really relate to: her curiosity, her questioning of authority, her confusion about who she is and her place in the world. The real strength of the novel, I think, is its depiction of rape and its aftermath (how does one recover from something so horrible). That being said, I'm not too crazy about how sexual relations are handled in the novel otherwise. I don't really like spoilers and I've spoiled enough already so I'll just leave it at that.
One last note: the cover art is fantastic, isn't it?