I believe a small wonder is coming. A love story so epic and unique that will wreck us all and leave us in a blissful haze of ‘book hangovers’ for months to come. I believe I would have never read this book had it not been written by this particular author. Would have not even glimpsed at it twice. I believe Mia Sheridan has just written one of the most stunning, unpretentious romances of our age, and this book is going to change us all. I walked into this story completely blind, refusing even to read the blurb, confident in this author’s superb storytelling talents and in the unquestionable beauty of every single one of her previous works, but after only a few pages, I knew I had hit a hard limit with the setting of this book. My brain was screaming at me, telling me I couldn’t possibly enjoy anything of this sort, but my heart never even entertained the possibility of stopping because I knew that Ms Sheridan would blow my mind, as she always does, and that this was going to be one of those life-altering reading experiences that stays with you, changes you, makes you look at the world in a different way. I trusted my heart. And my heart was right.
“A storm is coming.”
This story is set in modern day America, but far away from the comforts of the society we know and live in. Acadia is a close-knit community of small families renouncing modern technology and living a sheltered life, an uncomplicated life, a focused life, in the middle of the Arizona desert. Except that every aspect of their way of life finds its source in the teachings of one man, a self-proclaimed Prophet, promising to lead his people to eternal life after a great flood erases life on Earth as we know it. We meet Calder as a ten-year-old boy living in Acadia with his family, on the very day he sees the “blessed one” for the very first time. An orphan and younger than Calder, Eden is brought into Acadia as the future bride of the Prophet who would stand by his side on doomsday. But at nine years of age, Eden is just an innocent little girl who is curious about the world around her and who dreams of a normal life where she is allowed to play with other kids, where she is loved, and where she is not one scary man’s object of affection.
“You’re mine, Eden. You always have been, from the very first second I saw you.”
From the moment Calder and Eden lay eyes on each other, their connection is immediate and irreversible. We watch them grow up, become young adults, but their mutual adoration never falters, never fades, and it only becomes stronger as they somehow manage to weave a secret friendship without ever even exchanging a word between them. And then one day everything changes when their one place of escape becomes the very place where they fall in love with one another.
“If I were just a boy, and you were just a girl, I wouldn’t kiss you once like you asked. Eden, I’d kiss you long, and I’d kiss you often.”
Everything they were taught to believe tells them that loving each other is wrong, sinful, forbidden, but the more stolen moments of pure joy they share in each other’s company, the more it becomes impossible to deny their hearts. And the more they are told they should not love each other, the more they start doubting the very beliefs that are meant to keep them apart.
How could this be a sin when my heart was bursting with love for this strong, kind, incredible boy—the one who had taught me all things brave and beautiful? How could this be a sin when it was the most joyful moment of my whole life? Could it be wrong to be so happy?
We watch them fall in love, hesitantly at first, discovering those emotions and each other’s bodies as any two teenagers would, and we feel it all with them—the exhilaration, the joy, the curiosity, the lack of control, the certainty that they were made to belong to one another. And our hearts grow tenfold. But as Eden’s eighteenth birthday draws near, the malice that tries to keep them apart only grows stronger and more determined, challenging everything they once believed to be true.
“All I know for sure is that you belong to me and I’m going to protect you. I’m going to make a life for us. Somehow.”
There is a stunning contrast between the world that Calder and Eden secretly build for themselves, between them, and the one they are told to live in. The beauty and purity of their bond throws an even darker shadow on the life they were taught to accept and never question, and each shift from one ‘reality’ to another only intensifies the angst we feel as readers. As much as I enjoyed every second of this truly extraordinary tale, I have to admit that my heart was in my throat from beginning to end, constantly on guard, fearful for the characters I loved from the get-go, and uncertain how it would all end. A beautiful story of human resilience and strength, a masterpiece in the making, a reading experience that has shattered me in the best possible way—this is a book none of us will ever forget.
This story continues and concludes in Finding Eden…
“As long as we’re under the same moon, we’ll always find a way to each other.”