cover image Eden West

Eden West

Pete Hautman. Candlewick, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7418-2

In this haunting drama, Hautman (the Klaatu Diskos trilogy) gets inside the head of a teenage boy who has grown up as part of an apocalyptic Christian cult in Montana. Seventeen-year-old Jacob is part of the Grace, a community that dwells in the so-called land of Nodd while waiting for the Archangel Zerachiel to return and destroy the unbelievers of the outside World. During an eventful year, Jacob’s faith and beliefs are tested repeatedly as the Grace suffers losses and tragedies, with its members dying or departing and newcomers acting like snakes in the Garden. When Father Grace takes the girl Jacob loves as yet another wife, Jacob’s disillusionment grows, but it’s Lynna, the beguiling, Worldly girl from next door who tempts him with outside delights and a sense of freedom. Hautman captures the cultish mind-set easily while showing just how fragile its foundation can be. Jacob is sympathetic in his role as conflicted believer, though the sheer number of tribulations facing the Grace turns Jacob’s crisis of faith into something of an inevitability. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Flannery, Flannery Literary. (Apr.)