My Review of Eden by Jamie Lisa Forbes
The Widow Smalls was the first book I read written by Jamie Lisa Forbes. You can read my review here. Eden is a story about a younger boy in the 1950s who loses his Dad at an important time in his life. You will enjoy Jamie’s flawless writing as her story puts you right into the story like you are sitting right there.
As you flip each page you will keep wanting to continue reading until you are at the end. Each time I had to stop reading I kept wondering what was going on with Rowen. What would happen next? In order for you to know you will have to get a copy of your own.
If you have Kindle Unlimited it is currently ‘free to add to your library’. If you want to read the Kindle version that is available here. Or you can choose to get the paperback which you can purchase here.
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Excerpt from Eden
Sawyer’s house was the oldest in the neighborhood with towering yellow pines shading the yard. The house itself was a palace compared to the neighbors’—two stories high and whitewashed, not a smear of mold anywhere. Fresh-painted white rockers lined the front porch.
Behind the house, he crossed the footbridge over a ditch where insects swarmed in shrinking puddles of muddy water, and then rows and rows of chest-high leafy tobacco stalks pressed all around, nearly squeezing him to suffocation.
He pushed through into a row, and down at the end, he could see a mule’s ears twitch. He followed them and there was old man Sawyer on the skidder.
Sawyer addressed the mule. “Well, Hester Prynne, Mr. Hart has blessed us with his presence.” He turned to Rowen. “I ’spose you’re going to tell me you been layin’ in bed sick.”
“No, sir. I went to watch Franklin White’s trial in town. Sorry I didn’t say nothin’.”
Hester Prynne squirted a river of piss. In the mule’s eyes, he saw spoiled little city boy.
“I’d have thought a boy whose daddy shamed him by stiffin’ his bill collectors and then killin’ hisself, leavin’ that boy and his mama as begging paupers, would be more. . .” He glanced at Hester Prynne, as if she was going to finish the sentence, “. . . obliging.”
The stench of piss filled the air. Flies bit his ears.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Sawyer, you’re right. I’m grateful for the work, and I didn’t mean any disrespect.”
Sawyer nodded off to where the colored boy, Sammy, whisked leaves off the plants. “That boy there’s worth two of you. He doesn’t find the excitement in town to be so distracting.”
“I understand, Mr. Sawyer, and I won’t either no more.”
Rowen snatched a sack off the skidder and started on the row next to Sammy’s. He hadn’t known Sammy until he started working here. If Sammy had gone to school at all, he would have been in the colored school. Sammy was his own age, but towered over him, with legs and arms moving so fast it seemed the leaves jumped off the plants.
As they met along the row, Sammy said, “You new here, boy? Don’t believe I know you.”
“Cut it out, I already took it from Sawyer. I was at Franklin White’s trial. You shoulda been there. The rest of the town was there.”
Sammy squatted to pluck some lugs and peered up at him through the leaves. “Weren’t any Negroes there, right?”
“No, but the bank vice-president’s on trial. I bet there are Negroes that owe him money, too. He could go to jail for the rest of his life. Or maybe even get the death penalty.”
Sammy laughed as he scooted on past Rowen. “Boy goin’ to the U-nee-ver-sity, but how he gonna succeed when he’s so weak in mind?” Rowen straightened to make a comeback, but Sammy kept on moving and now he was at a distance where Rowen would have to shout a response.
Adeline. That’s who would have trumpeted the news about his university admission.
When the letter came a month ago, his mama and Adeline had whooped like guinea hens. Now he’d be a university student like Adeline’s daughter, Chloe, who’d taken off for Howard University just last fall! They didn’t bother to consider for a moment that he wasn’t anything like Chloe. Chloe could have had the face of the Queen of Sheba for all anyone knew, because her nose had never been out of her books. The times she’d come over with Adeline and sat at the kitchen table, she’d never been able to tear herself out of a page for more than an instant to say “Hey, Rowen,” while all he had to do was crack open World History, or whatever fool tome that he’d had to lug home, and his mind shot straight out the window, daydreaming about that shiny Skylark down at the Buick lot that he’d be able to put a down payment on one day if he could just get out of school and start his real life, whatever it would be. He couldn’t fathom what he might be doing but he was dang sure he would have money.
Without so much as asking him, his mama had sat up in her bed long enough to reply that, yes, he’d be attending the University of North Carolina. Back last fall he’d applied because that’s what his parents had told him to do. That’s what his daddy told him to do, the daddy who, it turned out, had steeped them all in a life of lies. Rowen hadn’t defied him at the time. He had thought that it wasn’t a matter of choice. For as long as he had lived, it was White Rock’s tradition for the children of the prosperous to be packed off to the university, some never to return and some to come home and be set up on pedestals.
Why should Adeline and his mama get to decree his fate now? Never mind where the money was going to come from. As miserable as things were, he had no urge to start from scratch among a throng he didn’t know, just to attain some higher life too foggy to imagine. What was the hocus-pocus by which a boy turned into a man? Far as he could tell, it didn’t have anything to do with how many degrees he got. All he’d ever be was the boy whose daddy picked suicide over bankruptcy. Hadn’t Sawyer said as much?
Yes, all right, he was living in a shack, but outside on that front porch, he could see a person coming from a mile off and know, white or colored, who they were and what they wanted. Everything within his range of vision was known, and if he had to be busted poor, he wanted life to stay right like it was where he could see everything coming.
Eden by Jamie Lisa Forbes
Publisher: Pronghorn Press, (May 25, 2020)
Category: Literary Fiction, Southern Fiction, Family Fiction
Tour dates: May & June 2020
Available in Print and ebook, 285 pages
Description of Eden by Jamie Lisa Forbes
Rowen Hart has been raised as the pampered son and only child of a prominent family in the small community of White Rock, North Carolina. It’s the 1950s and he’s drifting through the days, following the life path his parents have planned for him and preparing to go away to college. When his father’s suicide turns his world upside down, he finds himself responsible for his mother in their suddenly reduced circumstances that leave them dependent on his uncle, his father’s business partner.
Ill prepared to take over as head of the family, Rowen doesn’t know which way to turn. Then a neighbor’s ten year old daughter comes to live with them, baffling him with her wild behavior and never ending attempts to win his approval and making his new responsibilities even more overwhelming.
As Rowen tries to find his way, he begins to question everything about his upbringing, his current circumstances and his plans for the future as they turn to dust in his hands.
Praise Jamie Lisa Forbes
“Throughout this beautifully written story (Unbroken), I pictured the scenes, the characters, and visualized it all as if I walked among them. Five stars.”-Laurel Rain-Snow, Rainy Days and Mondays
“Unbroken is a powerful, absorbing book from the first page to the last. Forbes’ Wyoming ranch background adds rich flavors to the story. The author draws realistic, complex characters. Unbroken is an unvarnished testimonial to a way of life that few of us know.”– Mary E. Trimble, author of ‘ TUBOB: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps’
“The Widow Smalls is a collection of wonderful stories that will elicit a range of emotions, following a number of different themes, like loss, jealousy, regret, and acceptance. Each of the stories was as well written as the last, and I enjoyed each one immensely. Wonderful diverse plots, linked with the similar thread of ranch life, and defined characters, made for a truly great read. Author Jamie Forbes has really created something special here, a must-read for all short story lovers.”- Michelle Geist, Verified Amazon Review
Award winning author, Jamie Lisa Forbes was raised on a ranch along the Little Laramie River near Laramie, Wyoming. She attended the University of Colorado where she obtained degrees in English and philosophy. After fourteen months living in Israel, she returned to her family’s ranch where she lived for another fifteen years.
In 1994, she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2001, she graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and began her North Carolina law practice.
Her first novel, Unbroken, won the WILLA Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction in 2011. Her collection of short stories, The Widow Smalls and Other Stories, won the High Plains Book Awards for a short story collection in 2015. Her law practice gave her the opportunity to travel many of the back roads of North Carolina and meet the unique and diverse individuals who inspired Eden.
Buy Eden by Jamie Lisa Forbes
Giveaway Eden by Jamie Lisa Forbes
This giveaway is for the winner’s choice of print or ebook however, print is open to the U.S. only and ebook is available worldwide. There will be 2 winners. This giveaway ends July 1, 2020, midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.a Rafflecopter giveaway