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I think most people who’ve been out in the world have experienced some sort of heartbreak—an unrequited crush, someone rejecting them, infidelity, or perhaps (in the case of older readers) divorce. Sometimes life teaches you to fear love—that making yourself vulnerable to someone else is dangerous and wrong, and others might wield that power against you. Though I didn’t initially write Eve as a metaphor, I quickly realized that her struggle is a universal one.
Her story takes place sixteen years after a plague has decimated America’s population (okay—maybe THAT part isn’t so universal). Eve has spent most of her life inside the walled-in government compound. The female Teachers have taught all the girls that the world beyond the wall is dangerous, that boys and men are to be feared, and that love is just a concept used to manipulate women. They use books like The Awakening and Anna Karenina as proof of what can happen when you’re drawn into a relationship with a man. They share stories of their own heartbreak—of husbands who left them while they were pregnant, or the men beyond the wall who have raped and murdered women. Though there is some truth to what the Teachers say—there are dangerous men and gangs in the wild—this aspect of the curriculum was designed to keep the girls inside the compound, away from men, and to make them easier to control. But on the night before graduation, Eve discovers the horrifying fate that awaits her inside the School’s walls. She escapes into the wild. That moment—when she goes beyond the wall for the first time—is when her life truly begins.
Alone with no one and nothing to help her, Eve is confronted by the world she’s been warned about. She suffers exposure and starvation, faces wild animals and violent gangs. But the real danger comes when she meets Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy who has lived in the wild for years. He threatens everything she’s ever known as true. He’s not violent and angry. He doesn’t seem interested in courting her, and his actions don’t feel steeped in ulterior motives. Nearly everything he does seems to indicate that he is good, kind, and honest—everything she’s been told men are not. As Eve gets to know him, she hears the Teachers warnings in her head. She remembers the way Teacher Agnes cried when she spoke of her marriage, the quiet oppression she felt around her husband. Every time she gets closer to him, she’s pulled back by these thoughts, so familiar it’s easy to mistake them for her own.
Will they be able to move forward? Or will Eve remained bound to the beliefs she has lived with for so long? You might have to read the book to find out. But I hope, even though it’s set in 2041, even though it takes place in a desolate, overgrown version of our world, or describes a New American Monarchy where a King reigns over the citizens, you will be able to relate to Eve. She’s like so many of us. She’s trying to love someone despite everything she’s been taught, despite the huge risk inherent in caring deeply for anyone else.
- Anna Carey
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