4 out of 4 stars
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First Family by Alice Langholt is the kind of book that makes a reader glad that Neanderthal man climbed up out of the primordial ooze and managed to put words together in a written form. Langholt’s riveting tale is the story of the literal first family, Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel, told from their viewpoints. Getting into his head, we read about Adam’s experiences upon awakening as the first man. Eve tells us such things as how it felt to be pregnant the first time and then to give birth. Cain and Abel tell us how they really felt about each other. Even the snake gets in on the action, talking about God’s “new toys”. God Himself also checks in with His thoughts and feelings.
I absolutely LOVED this book. Having heard the story of the first man and woman many times, it was fascinating for me to read about not just what happened but also how the events felt to the people in question. Even though I’m aware that the author took artistic license, I still found myself thinking, “Yeah. I bet that really IS how they felt!” Ms. Langholt also elaborated on some things only touched upon in the Bible, such as how Adam felt upon first seeing Eve (hint: NOT horny!) and why Eve thought it was a good idea to eat the forbidden fruit. The book ends just after Eve’s revelation that she’s pregnant with Seth, but I very well could have read the whole Bible in this fashion.
With a cast of six, each chapter in First Family is told from a different person’s viewpoint, but it was neither jarring nor confusing. The action also picks up from the same point as we move from person to person, so the tale was pretty seamless. In addition, each person spoke with a different voice and did justice to the characters as we know them. I was especially interested in Cain’s thoughts and motives since he was the first murderer, and I really wanted to know what drove him to such a drastic and final action.
I was also pleased with the amount of descriptions used in this book. The Garden of Eden is legendary, and reading Ms. Langholt’s words, I was able to see the many animals, taste the various fruits, and hear the rushing river like never before. After the hapless couple was kicked out of the garden, I could picture the less than tranquil land they were banished to, and I felt as worried as Adam did.
With a book of this nature, it’s easy to get preachy, but that wasn’t the case with this retelling. I very well may have been reading about people down the street or from a secular movie. When God spoke or a character thought about His “rule”, it was put forth in a matter of fact manner, as if it was merely a discussion about what to eat for dinner. For this reason, I don’t think nonbelievers will be turned off.
I believe the book was professionally edited, as I found no major grammatical errors or misspellings in it. The formatting was also easy to follow, and the page breaks made sense.
I am thrilled to give First Family a solid 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it for believers of all faiths, the spiritually-curious, and those who are struggling in their faith.
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