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Reviews for Waiting for Eden

by Elliot Ackerman

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In this gorgeously constructed short novel, Ackerman (Dark at the Crossing, 2017) focuses on a marriage between a soldier, Eden Malcolm, and his wife, Mary. In taut, detached prose that is rich in symbolism, the novel begins with Eden's dramatic return from Iraq, where he has been injured beyond all recognition. Mary comes immediately to his side, heavily pregnant. The scene of much of the novel is the San Antonio burn unit in which Eden resides. In short sections that flit between Eden before the explosion and his existence after, Ackerman, in a mysterious narrative voice, describes how Mary navigates grief, loss, motherhood, and what it means to be married to someone barely alive. Both Eden's and Mary's fears and foibles are richly explored to create a deeply moving portrayal of how grief can begin even while our loved ones still cling to life. In this unique Afghanistan and Iraq Wars novel, which joins a growing genre that includes Kevin Powers' Yellow Birds (2012) and Phil Klay's Redeployment (2014), Ackerman's focus on a single family makes the costs of war heartbreakingly clear, as does his drawing emotion and import from the smallest of acts with incredible skill. Many will read this wonderful novel in a single sitting.--Alexander Moran Copyright 2018 Booklist

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In his previous novels (Green on Blue, In the Dark at the Crossing), Ackerman, a National Book Award finalist and decorated veteran, attempted to view contemporary war through empathy and conflicting perspectives, with his characters ranging from an orphan forced to fight in the middle of Afghanistan's civil war to an Arab American crossing into Syria to battle Assad. Here, his outlook expands beyond the confines of national borders to the afterlife. Badly burned and paralyzed from an IED on the battlefield, Eden silently and anxiously awaits his own death as his pregnant wife, Mary, sits dutifully by his side and prepares for the birth of their child. Struggling between the decision to release her husband from this life or cling to every last day, Mary's world begins to unravel into a tempest of despair and hope. Spanning the next three years, the alternating narrative jumps between present and past through the memories and stories of a posthumous and omniscient narrator, Eden's friend, who died in the same explosion. VERDICT With sparse prose and a deft pen, Ackerman writes a profound meditation on the liminal space between our past, present, and future. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/18; "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 8/18.]-Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

A National Book Award finalist for Dark at the Crossing, former Marine Ackerman tells the heartbreaking story of a relationship caught up in the aftermath of war. Eden and Mary are happily married with a child on the way when Eden is deployed for his second tour in Iraq. After an accident leaves Eden's best friend dead and Eden barely alive, he returns home on a stretcher covered in severe burns and is unable to return to the life he'd led before. Mary, meanwhile, cares for their infant daughter and must wrestle with the hard decision of whether to take Eden off of life support. She is full of resentment and guilt, unable to forgive herself for letting him leave for war. Eden's best friend narrates-caught in limbo between this world and the next-and hovers over their lives, connecting to both in unexpected ways. He offers a bird's-eye view of the pain and suffering of both Mary and Eden as they struggle separately to make peace with Eden's imminent death. This is a deeply touching exploration of resentment, longing, and loss among those who volunteer to fight and the loved ones left behind. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.