Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader
When I read the blurb for this book I immediately thought that it would be like a modern day Jim Jones/People’s Temple/Guyana tragedy. (I didn’t realize how that dated me until I talked to a colleague who as younger than me and didn’t have that cultural reference. Talk about devastating, I don’t think of myself as old.) I wasn’t too far off, though I was pleasantly surprised by the twists in the plotline. I don’t mind when I know the road the plot is taking, when we end up going the scenic route.
Students will get caught up in the danger of Escape from Eden. Fear is a big motivator. Fear for the characters, fear that something like this could (and did) happen. I needed to know if Mia and Gabriel would be okay. As a mom, I wanted to slap some grownups, even as I can understand their fear.
Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.
But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s façade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?