Cover image for The garden
The garden
Aidinoff, Elsie V.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperTempest, [2004]

Physical Description:
403 pages ; 20 cm
Retells the tale of the Garden of Eden from Eve's point of view, as Serpent teaches her everything from her own name to why she should eat the forbidden fruit, and then leaves her with Adam and the knowledge that her choice has made mankind free.
Reading Level:
710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 12.0 78999.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.8 19 Quiz: 36464 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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In the beginning ...

There was the Serpent, there for Eve's awakening, and for all the days since. Teacher, mentor, companion, friend, and more. There was God. The Creator. Quick to anger. Dangerous. Majestic.

There was Adam: as God said, a joy to behold.

And there was Eve.

These four hold the future in their hands. And only Eve -- or perhaps the Serpent, too -- wonders what lies outside the Garden of Eden. Passionate, witty, beautifully drawn, and utterly unforgettable, The Garden, a debut novel, remakes and offers insights into a story that forms a cornerstone of our understanding.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

One of the world's oldest stories becomes new again in the hands of a 70-year-old first-time novelist. The setting is a lush, freshly formed Garden of Eden, where Eve is just awakening to the all-wise, feathered Serpent who is her guardian. Nearby, Adam is being raised by a cranky, white-bearded God intent on seeing that His creations adhere to His vision. But the Serpent has something far different in mind for its charge, and under the Serpent's painstaking tutelage, Eve begins to think and to question.ourneys with the Serpent outside the garden give Eve a breadth and depth of knowledge forbidden to Adam, who learns to fear a god who is both capricious and demanding. Despite the Serpent's strenuous objections, God insists that Adam and Eve mate, and the event turns into a rape, for which Eve is loath to forgive either God or Adam. Only later, when the Serpent changes form, becomes a man, and makes love to Eve, is she prepared to accept her central role as the mother of humankind. Even then, however, she's still not ready to forgo her independence. Although the Serpent explains all the hardship that will come to her if she eats the apple from the Tree ofnowledge, she accepts the challenge to become a fully realized human, as does Adam, who, though lacking Eve's strength, also yearns to be his own person. In an author's note, Aidinoff explains that she has drawn on lore that equates the Serpent to Wisdom, who is said to have been with God at the creation, and the smart, empathetic, even romantic Serpent will evoke the most response from teenagers (God is certainly one-dimensional by comparison). The story at times is overly descriptive. It is at its best during the dialogues between Eve and the Serpent, when age-old questions are asked and real answers are given--although not necessarily the answers that have been accepted for ages. For instance, when the Serpent asks Eve what she thinks of the songs of praise God has taught her and Adam, Eve wonders, Why does God need to be adored all the time? We know he made the sea and the dry land and all the rest. Why does he have to hear it over and over again? There's no doubt this book will upset some people, both in its depiction of God and because of its sexual scenes, which, though not salacious, are intense and uncompromising. Perhaps most disturbing is the scene in which God urges Adam to take Eve against her will. Some readers, however, will find the book liberating--a meditation on the role of humanity in the world and on the compromises people make when they choose freedom instead of obedience. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Aidinoff's provocative debut, God has given Eve to the Serpent to raise while He rears Adam. As the book opens, narrator Eve is just coming to consciousness, and her sense of wonder as the Serpent introduces her to her surroundings is one of the novel's strengths; it also sets the stage for Eve's later decision to eat the apple. The author characterizes the Serpent as the embodiment of Reason, Justice and Wisdom, whereas most of the time God comes through as a rather two-dimensional fiery Old Testament deity. One day God becomes impatient to discover whether or not he's designed the male and female to procreate properly, so he rushes Adam and Eve into intercourse ("It's just that-I want to see it happen, so I know it works!"). The Serpent alone recognizes the consequences of God's act: "Until today Eve has felt... that the world was good.... [Adam] as good as raped her. With your encouragement." Eve leaves the Garden to gain some distance from God, and the Serpent accompanies her. Upon their return to the Garden, the roots of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil begin to grow; the Serpent senses that time is running out to teach Eve that lovemaking is good. The author develops Eve and the Serpent as more fully realized characters than God and Adam. Readers may ultimately have trouble sympathizing with the Serpent (given that he decides to step out of his role as ideal guardian to make love to Eve) and with God as portrayed here ("It's not good for you to know the difference between good and evil, because it's not good for you to think! Not for yourselves anyway," God says). Ages 14-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 11 Up-A revision of the Fall as written in Genesis, The Garden is told from the perspective of Eve, a quizzical woman who questions everything from her own "birth" to God's authority. Aloof and careless, Adam is the more physical of the two; he enjoys the paradise of Eden, running with the antelope each day, never paying attention to the lessons that his didactic God has to offer. The two other characters in the novel are God, an authoritarian who views his children as toys, and the Serpent, his close friend and Eve's kind and understanding mentor. By writing from Eve's point of view, Aidinoff proffers an alternate perspective on an old story, but, unfortunately, the book ends up reinforcing old ideas, that women are more "emotional" and men more "physical." In the climax of the story, God impulsively, in an effort to see the fruits of his creativity and labor, forces Adam upon Eve. This rape leads Eve to distrust God and eventually-with the Serpent's help-leave the Garden. The Genesis story has incredible revisionist possibilities, but the characters here are flat and uninteresting, and the simplistic dialogue is not compelling. Ultimately, the author's effort to retell the "Fall" in a fresh way frankly falls, and fails to do just that.-Kelly Berner Richards, St. George's School, Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Garden Chapter One The Beginning Something heavy on my center, smooth against my skin, shifting very slightly within itself, stretched and retracted. Occasionally a tap to the side, always in the same spot. I breathed. Instantly the thing was still. I let out the air. Again I inhaled, deeply, and pushed against the heaviness as I filled my chest. The thing began to move. Slowly, stopping and starting, it wound back and forth across my thigh, around my knee, down my leg. It slid over my ankle, passed gently by my heel, with a little touch to my instep along the way. There was a swish. Again, silence and dark. I felt light, unburdened, empty, as if I might float away. Soft things swept my face, my cheek, my ear, wafted across my nose. My hands rose from my sides and brushed them off. There was a tickle in my nose; I gasped, gasped again. A great noise burst from my mouth. My eyelids jerked open. And I saw. At first there was only blue, limpid and luminous, stretching wide above me. A white, fluffy mass appeared, scudded across the expanse, tumbled into pieces, and melted into the blue. I lifted my arms, spread my fingers. Light came through them; the ends glowed pink. I curled a finger into my palm and felt it scratch the skin. On my arms fine hairs glimmered in the sunlight. Still lying flat, I turned my head to one side. Not far away several forms, tall and dark and topped with green fluff, stretched toward the sky. Scattered around me and floating through the air were weightless bits of pink, turned up around the edges: blossoms falling from trees; it was one of them that had tickled my nose. I caught a petal as it fell and rubbed it against my cheek. It was soft and smelled sweet. I raised my head and looked down. More new sights: two small, white cushions topped with pink, each with a tip that stuck out. A smooth, soft expanse where the weight had been. Below, something fuzzy and gold. Sitting up, I discovered legs, ankles, feet, toes with shiny ends just like the ones on my fingers. A petal rested on my foot; it slid away when I wiggled my toe. That first day, of course, I did not know it was the sky I saw, the wind that moved my hair, an apple tree that shed pink petals on my toe. Cloud, face, blossom: all were unknown. I had no knowledge, no words. Each time I turned my head and found, before my eyes, something I had not seen, the world expanded. Bending my knees, I took my feet in my hands. The soles were tender and a little wrinkled. I lifted my hands and found my mouth, nose, eyes, and above, a tremendous load of stuff, soft and very long. I pulled my fingers through it and stretched my arms as far as I could reach, drew the stream over my face, and saw the world through a fall of gold. When I blew, my breath sent it ballooning in front of me. The sight, the feel of it, astonished me, and I laughed. There was a rustle in the leaves, and I heard a sound like the one I had made when my hair billowed on my breath. I stood and saw, in the shade of the tree, a mound of coils sheathed in brilliant colors, moving and shifting constantly, topped with a feathered head. Two emerald eyes looked out at me from a brown face. The creature's mouth was open and its head shook. When it realized I had seen it, it stopped and flicked a green tongue over its lips. "Well, little one," it said. "I don't mean to laugh at you-but it's amusing to see you wake from the silence and start to explore the world." It set its head to the ground and moved toward me, straightening its body one coil at a time. In the sun it wound itself again into a circle and raised itself high, bringing its head level with mine. I reached out my hand and ran my fingers down its back, overwhelmed by its beauty. The creature stretched under my caress. Then it shook its head. "And you know how to laugh. And sneeze. That is a gift not given to gods." "Gods," I said. "What are gods?" "Never mind. It's not important now. Much more important to know yourself." It inclined its head to the left and smiled. "You," it said softly, "are Eve." It drew out the e: Eeeeve, with a little puff at the end. The name sounded beautiful and worthy. "Eeeeve," I said. "Yes," it replied. "I've been watching over you. I'm glad you're awake." "Oh, it was you that was sitting on my . . . " I put my hand on the place where I had felt its weight. "Stomach." "My stomach." "Yes. I hope you don't mind. I was listening for your heart to begin its beat. You were so soft and comfortable in the sun, I grew quite sleepy." "But you're too . . ." I spread my arms wide. "Big." "Big to fit on my stomach." The creature smiled. "Oh, I made myself smaller," it said. "I wouldn't want to squash you-especially not when you've just come to life." "And who," I asked, "are you?" The creature uncoiled itself and drew its body toward the sky so that it was nearly standing on its tail. "I," it said, "am the Serpent. God has given you to me to raise. He has placed you in my care. I am your mentor, guide, and teacher. For you are new to the world. You know nothing." The Serpent smiled as if it were paying me a compliment. "You are mine to form and to teach. That, for instance, is your foot." It slid over gracefully and licked the end of my foot. I looked at my feet, and then at my body, and cupped my hands under the cushions with pink tips. "Those are your breasts," the Serpent said. "Breasts," I repeated. "Below is your stomach." "Stomach," I said. "Legs. And these," it said, "are your toes. And toenails. Repeat after me. Feet." "Feet." "Toes." "Toes, toenails, legs, stomach, breasts." "Ah," said the Serpent. "A quick learner. Good. But we won't rush. We have lots of time. You must be hungry." "Hungry?" I asked. "Yes. A funny feeling in your stomach. It means you need to eat." "Eat?" I asked. The Serpent sighed. "Come, I'll show you." The Garden . Copyright © by Elsie Aidinoff. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.