3 out of 4 stars
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In the beginning, God created the world. He made the animals, the plants, and Adam, the first man. Knowing that Adam is lonely, God creates a partner for him named Eve. After Eve listens to the snake and eats the forbidden fruit, they are both are expelled from the Garden. They must learn to provide for themselves, and eventually, they create two additional lives. Their children, Cain and Abel, share characteristics with their parents, but the story ultimately ends in tragedy.
The First Family by Alice Langholt is not necessarily a religious book, but it does find inspiration in the Bible. Langholt attempts to fill in the blanks on the missing pieces of the stories of Adam and Eve and of Cain and Abel. She creates personalities for each of the characters, allowing different voices to describe each scene. Most of the scenes are from the viewpoints of Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel, but God has several sections as well. The snake even gives his point of view early in the book.
Even though I do identify as a Christian, I am not actively practicing, and my beliefs are quite liberal. I find the idea of religion fascinating, especially from a literary viewpoint. However, this review is not about religion but rather about the novel. I had my eye on this book for some time, but I wanted to wait until the beginning of the year to read it. I am thankful that I am starting my year with such a positive experience.
My favorite part of Langholt's novel is the parallel between God and humans. God creates Adam and Eve, and they later create Cain and Abel. The characterizations of each player in this book are different from anything I have ever read. Eve questions God's motives and sometimes even existence because He never talks to her, but Adam has no doubts, perhaps because of his constant conversations with God. Cain is similar to his mother, questioning why God should be given thanks when it is Cain who has done the work. Abel is more like his father and has full faith in God. Unfortunately, these differences tear the family apart.
I struggled to find any negatives to this novel, so I decided to discuss the characters I didn't like. In most forms of entertainment, there are characters that are liked less than others—not because they are poorly written, but because they do not vibe with our own personalities. For me, these characters are Adam and Abel. I do not dislike these characters entirely, but if knew them in person and I had a choice of whether or not to include them in my daily life, I would probably decline and prefer them as acquaintances rather than friends. As an intellectual, I identify with Eve and Cain (who is not portrayed as evil or a villain) because of their questioning nature. However, there are dangers to curiosity.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. There are times where commas should be used but aren't (usually before the word “too”), which takes away from the score. I found the characters to be believable and relatable. I would recommend this book to Christians and non-Christians alike with the caveat that it is merely a story and is not intended to be gospel. It gives different views of Biblical events, but those unfamiliar with the Christian Bible may still enjoy the story itself. I would love to read more of Langholdt's writing, especially if she continues with Bible stories as the foundation.
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