Saturday, August 10, 2013

REVIEW: SEARCHING FOR EDEN by Keith Madsen

Title: Searching for Eden
Series: Evan Jordan
Author: Keith Madsen
Publisher: Club Lighthouse Publishing
Publication Date: February 27, 2010
Genres: Current Affairs, Fiction, Action
Reviewed by: Margitte
Margitte’s smiley rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

When Evan Jordan’s 14-year old daughter dies of cancer, he goes on a quest to find a place where children don’t die, and where life is still good. The search is inspired by an interest his dying daughter expressed in the Garden of Eden. Could it be that such a place still exists somewhere? Using a small inheritance, he goes searching for that mythical garden, hoping thereby to rediscover the goodness and innocence he lost with the young girl’s death. Evan’s story intersects with those of a beautiful divorced archaeologist, a 14-year old Hispanic prostitute, and an Iranian woman who killed her rapist; all of whom join Evan in his quest. The journey brings together Christians and Jews, Muslims and skeptics, all looking to recover a sense of goodness at the heart of life and human relationship. Evan and friends travel through Iran and Iraq and even to the Island of Bahrain, looking for clues to the Garden’s reality, and whether it might still be found. They dig in ancient cemeteries, climb ziggurats, race through war zones and examine bizarre art carved into human skulls; all the time seeking the secret to humanity’s foundational myth. In the process of searching they run afoul of the Iranian government for getting too close to nuclear sites, they battle militants, and they have to decide who to trust in a very dangerous part of the world. Will what they find make it worth the risk?


REVIEW

When Evan Jordan curled up in a fetal position on the floor of a public phone booth and cried, after his daughter Sarah passed away, I knew I would want to read this book!

In their last father-daughter conversation she wanted to know if Eden existed, and he decided to find it in her memory. But as John Lennon said, life is happening to us while we're busy making other plans...

Life would throw professor Evan Jordan a few curve balls, leading him through avenues he would never have imagined for himself. The most unlikely people would tumble into his life: 

Carmen - the teenage prostitute who "
sold away her innocence";

Professor Jessica Santiago - the archaeologist, coming from an abusive relationship - "
In the end, the only thing that saved her was her own inner strength, her own resolve to find her life again, to face the fearfulness of being alone in order to flee the terror of not being at all". Not a woman coming into his life with a totally innocent clean slate however...;

Afsenah - from the city of Tabriz, the Iranian woman who was jailed for killing her attacker, an overly-optimistic police officer;

BehnAm - Dr. Santiagos old friend and Iranian guide, with his own history and experiences to add;

Doctor Carl Goldman - the Jewish archaeologist who knew more about Jesus than the Americans in the group.

The fast, high-speed adventure would begin when Jessica had to"...
change a lifetime pattern, help falsify passports, and run off with a suspected felon to search for what many believe to be a fairy tale..." But like all capable woman, she would have more than archaeology in mind. She knew how to multitask! Evan would also learn that sharing a room, forced for their own safety to act as a married couple, does not promise "panty raids in the middle of the night!" (no, there is no spelling mistakes anywhere in that entire sentence!)

Evan had other motives: ..."
to find the Garden, to find that world that existed before the axe murderers and the rapists, and the paranoid young women scarred by insensitive men…and the teenagers dying of cancer…and the airports with armed soldiers…"

It would not be that easy though! Despite their different reasons for leaving in a hurry, they still had to provide their physical addresses in the USA at the Iranian airport "
where their remains could be delivered for burial" in case they did not stick to their mission!

So you think you've got it? Nope. You have no cookin' clue whatsoever what happened next!

Suffice to say, throw some different religions, international politics and two opposing nationalities in a big iron pot, put it on a roaring fire in the Persian Gulf, sit back and watch it boil over, spattering - majestically so, especially when the adventure is penned downed by the Americans. I guarantee you, it is not a slow-moving tale on a camel ride to nowhere. Besides, supersonic movies such as Speed 1 & 2, did not exactly come from the deserts of the Persian Gulf, right? 

So you think you've got the plot now down pat...ya well no fine. Perhaps you do. But before you buckle up and have yourself beamed up into the buzz, wait a sec, Scottie! For starters you cannot do that in a passed sell-by-date Volkswagen bus through the desert, unless Hollywood gets hold of it, you know! Secondly, this book is not quite an action pact thriller for the adrenaline junkie, although you might find some really satisfactory thrills bubbling through your veins on this fast moving journey. That is to say if you can survive the urge for vile language and the wham-bam thank-you mam-escapades to rev up the juices, because this book won't deliver on those particular endorphins in that particular form and strength. 

Nevertheless, reading it won't make you famous, but you will experience old rundown Volkswagen Bus loads full of adventure the American way! And after the bus there will be even more riskier carriers into the tale!

"The road to Eden. Didn't someone once say that the way was narrow and the road rough that leads to life? If that was the case, then maybe they were heading in the right direction." 

Prophetic words indeed! It did not matter how noble the dream was to find Eden, they were not quite the controllers of their own destiny, although they thought they were! Freedom would not be theirs to find on their own terms, and the road to The Garden of Eden, leading through different places in the Gulf region, would teach them that the hard way. The price would be high. 

To each of the passengers on the journey, the Mount Sahand valley would become the place for perspective, healing and hope. (In the north east of Iran at the foot of Iran's highest mountain, Mount Sahand in Kandovan, the villagers live in cave homes carved out from the volcanic rock. The age of some houses is more than 700 years - I Googled it. An amazing valley!)

"We've been pretty much flying by the seat of our pants to this point," said Evan finally.And that they did for sure! But they also took the readers with them everywhere, sharing the adventures, fear, fantasy and tears of finding the meaning of the snake in the Garden of Eden. The book centered around the meaning of "Where there are snakes, there must be ladders."

Romance, adventure, politics, religion, archaeology, geography and morals are the ingredients of this fast-moving tale. Add a pinch of wit and wisdom and this book becomes an informative delight to read. I recommend it to everyone who would love to read about modern history, the nuclear debate, and religious respect without blowing your mind into oblivion in the process. The book contains all the ingredients to make it really a great, relaxing, yet thought-provoking experience. I really like the way it was written! 

I give it five stars for the purpose it was written, namely to capture the gentle mind and to address issues relevant to this kind of reader who do not want to be drowned in a glorification of sex, violence or mental torture.


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Searching for Eden by Keith Madsen has 7 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.

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