3 out of 4 stars
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First Family is written by Alice Langholt. It is a creative retelling of humanity’s origin story through the lens of the Abrahamic doctrines. The Genesis creation story doesn’t contain a detailed record of everything that happened to the first humans. First Family fills in these gaps and takes the necessary liberties to create one possible account of what may have occurred. It depicts how it may have felt to experience these events from each of the characters' perspectives.
Initially, the characters did not feel completely fleshed out. They were distinct, but they felt simplified. There is a slight possibility that this was intentional. Adam and Eve were essentially newborns, so they didn’t have personal histories that would give them a lot of depth. If that was the case, I would have appreciated more clarity on that point. Whether that was the motivation or not, the characters felt thin at the beginning of the book. Thankfully, they became fully fleshed characters as the book progressed. Their motivations grew in complexity, but they still managed to remain clear. I believe that the author’s view of the characters developed, and that translated into the writing. By the end, each member of that family felt like a real person.
One of the marks of a good author is to take the villain of a story and show their humanity. In First Family, Cain wasn’t presented as heartless and filled with malice. He had his issues, and all of his pain was relatable. I never despised him.
On a similar note, Adam and Abel were not put on pedestals. They were unquestionably faithful to their god. There can be great positives about this trait, but there are also potential negatives. The story doesn’t glorify one or the other. It presents the characteristics to the reader, and it allows the reader to react to them. Life is complicated. We can make the wrong decision regardless of the purity of our intentions.
On the negative side, I feel that the book could have used a stronger focus on happy moments. Emotions are a relative experience. Experiencing the highs with the characters would have given the losses a more significant impact. Eden was a paradise, and there would have been a lot to miss. The book skimmed over this part of Adam and Eve’s life, and I felt that was to its detriment.
Overall, this book breathes new life into a story that has been told for eons. That is not easy to do. Anyone that subscribes to an Abrahamic religion should give this a read. Also, people exploring faiths should look at this as well. It’s worth your time.
This book was great! The writer pulled me from the default perspective of someone looking at a past event and placed me beside the characters. The characters took a little while to become fully formed. By the end, they each felt unique, human, and full of motivation. I enjoyed the writing. A bit more description would have been preferred, but the internal dialogue told all the necessary information. Aside from all of that, I think the story would have benefited from an in-depth description of the happy moments. In the end, I loved this story. I am giving it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
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