This book begins in 2014 with a general breakdown of the economic infrastructure in the U.S. followed by the inevitable social unrest and violence. A young family, Kianna and John Wallace and their two 13-year-old twins, Val and Eron, try to escape from Chicago – which is rapidly disintegrating – to John’s parents’ house in New Hampshire. On the way, they are robbed, John is killed, and only after Kianna and the kids are almost dead themselves are they rescued and taken in by a remarkable group of people who call themselves The Tribes of Eden.
The story basically takes off from there, describing life both in the “shire” of the Tribes of Eden and in the “GRID” of the remaining population in the former United States.
Discussion: Part of the author’s agenda is to incorporate into his story his personal passion for helping to change the life experience of people from one of greed, acquisition, and violence into one of sharing and caring. He does indeed make this point with Tribes of Eden and I think it’s a good cause. But a novel is perhaps not the best way for him to proceed. The prose is leaden, characterized by stock epithets (e.g., “Dawn’s rosy fingers”), inappropriate metaphors (Venus as “a dusky jewel” which really doesn’t make sense unless you happen to be listening to The Doors sing “Hello I Love You” as you’re looking up at the sky), cardboard characters (both good and evil), political improbabilities, and an episode towards the end of the book of NanoSecondLove that makes most Instalove fixations look like long-term courtships.
So let’s not talk about the book, but rather the real life project that inspired the book, “The Eden Alternative.” Here’s what the website says:
Eliminating the Plagues of Loneliness, Helpless and Boredom
The core concept of The Eden Alternative is strikingly simple. Dr. William Thomas, his wife Judy, the Eden home office staff, 50 Eden Educators, 60 mentors and more than 15,000 associates teach that where elders live must be habitats for human beings, not sterile medical institutions. They are dedicated to eliminating the plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom that make life intolerable in most of today’s long-term care facilities.
Creating Homes Where Life is Worth Living
The Eden Alternative shows how companionship, the opportunity to give meaningful care to other living things, and the variety and spontaneity that mark an enlivened environment, can succeed where pills and therapies often fail. Places that have adopted the Eden Alternative typically are filled with plants, animals, and are regularly visited by children.”
Evaluation: If your reading time is limited, I’d be in favor of skipping the book and using the time to take a look around at the author’s website and learning about The Eden Alternative. It sounds like a very worthwhile program!
Published by Sana Publications, 2012