Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

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East of Eden

East of Eden

Author: John Steinbeck

Year: 1952

Famous for: More riffs on the story of Cain and Abel than you ever thought possible.

Main character: Adam Trask, a guy in the middle of an epic struggle between good and evil.

The scoop:

In the unspoiled West where the land is wild, two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—struggle to tame nature … and to eke out an existence. But that’s not all they struggle to tame. In fact, while Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a celebration of the beauty (and harsh realities) of California ranch life, its focus is actually on the people themselves—specifically, on the generations of the Trask family and their epic struggle between two conflicting forces. Between the power of good, and the ever-present temptations of evil.

If you think you’ve heard the good versus evil story before, you’d be right. It’s the oldest story in the book—in the Bible, that is. And the decisions made by Adam Trask’s original namesake—the first man, Adam—set the stage for the choices that play out in East of Eden. Like the original Adam, all the Trasks struggle. Like Adam, few of them find salvation.

But unlike the Bible, _East of Eden_ offers up a different version of salvation—one that isn’t explicitly religious. Which means that, whether or not you buy the Adam and Eve story, East of Eden is still a tale that anyone can relate to. After all, salvation, in this book, is tied to a concept that’s central to the human experience: Choice.


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