Hope for the Future: A Review of ‘For Eden’s Sake’

“It is a poverty that a “child must die”, so that you may live as you wish.”–Mother Teresa

Reading Level

Grades 9+

Review and Comments

One of this year’s newest Catholic YA novels is difficult to describe.  I want to make this a simple review, but there’s too much to think about.  It’s beautiful, it’s sad, it’s hopeful, it’s true.

The story begins with Isaac, a young man of faith and conviction, letting go of his inhibitions and drinking too much at a work event.  He makes some bad decisions and because of this ends up getting a girl he hardly knows pregnant.  This young woman, Rebecca, decides that she is not going to keep the baby and asks for money from Isaac for an abortion.  From here the emotions fly on both ends as they fight over the life of this unplanned child.  It’s a simple plot, but the emotions behind the actions and decisions of the characters is what really moves the readers.

What is Beautiful

I’m old enough now where I’m able to look at the parents of Isaac and feel their pain and disappointment in the actions of their son.  He has done something stupid.  He has sinned, and his sin has caused a difficult situation not only for him, but for a girl he hardly knows.  He is now connected to this girl whether he wants to be or not.

I felt the tension in the room as Isaac told his father what he had done and I felt for both of them, but the reaction of his father is one that I feel most parents SHOULD hope to have.  His mother the next morning is describes has having disappointment in her eyes despite the smile on her face as she makes breakfast for her son.  

The beauty here is that Isaac has wonderful parents, but also, this is how I would imagine God would respond to a confession of sin.  Disappointment, sadness, and yet love that permeates the frustration.  Isaac’s parents react in the image and likeness of God…and THAT is beautiful.

More beauty comes from the growth of the character of Rebecca.  She grows from wanting to rid herself of this child to wanting the baby.  The slow evolution of her change shows what many mothers feel.  An unplanned pregnancy can be devastating for a woman, but as that child grows and develops, they can be such a blessing for that mother.  A mother’s love is like nothing else…and THAT is beautiful.

And in this world we hear about men who want no responsibility for the children they create.  Not Isaac.  His faith and conviction remain.  He will take the unwanted baby and make amends for his wrongs…and that is beautiful.

What is Sad

The sin itself is sad, the disappointment Isaac feels in himself is sad, but the nonchalant desire to kill the child is devastating.  Rebecca, who is clearly taking cues from others, has no qualms about killing her child.  She is disgusted by Isaac (who unquestionably does not react with kindness to her initially) and leaves when he begins to pressure her to keep the baby.

We find Rebecca’s life is one of sadness and loneliness as her mother has died many years ago and her father seems to think she’s not worth much.  Her father, in comparison to Isaac’s father, is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Rebecca’s friend is also someone who should care for Rebecca, but as she Rebecca slowly changes her mind and decides to keep the baby, she becomes nastier and nastier.  There seems to be so much sadness in Rebecca’s life coming from every direction.

What is Hopeful

Without giving too much away, the ending leaves us with a sense of hope for this “thrown together situation”.  The author leaves the reader cheering for Isaac and Rebecca and their baby.  There is hope for the young adults in our world.  There is hope for a pro-life mindset.  There is hope for us all.

What is True

Babies are babies from the moment of conception whether they were planned or not.  Sin, no matter how much regret comes afterwards, can cause ripples that affect those we love, those we don’t love, and even those we many not know.  

This book does an amazing job at explaining this to young people.  One stupid night changes Isaac before he even finds out about the repercussions of his sin.  BUT (and this is a big one) there is beauty that comes out of it all.  Despite everything, there is new life and changed lives forever.  God, in His greatness, does not leave us when we follow Him.

This book is undoubtedly so valuable for any young person to read, especially those who are beginning their dating lives.  The male protagonist offers a new perspective to the “unwanted pregnancy” discussion in our culture and presents new topics of discussion for young people today.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  It’s a quick read that will keep anyone on their toes. T.M. Gaouette has proven herself a wonderful YA author.  Though I wish books like these had been around when I was younger, we are so blessed to have authors writing good Catholic books for us now.  Catholic parents and Catholic schools everywhere should be encouraging their children to read her book.

Possible Concerns

  • SPOILER:  This book opens with Isaac having a one-night stand with a girl he doesn’t know.  His friends encourage him to drink too much.  Though the book does not go into any detail, it is something parents should be aware of.

Discussion Questions

  • Though Isaac makes some foolish decisions at the beginning of the book, great beauty comes out of the situation.  How would you say his faithfulness is rewarded?
  • Isaac and Rebecca’s parents react very differently to the situation.  Compare and contrast the two and explain how they either demonstrate God’s love, or don’t.
  • Isaac and Rebecca have very different friends.  Who is the more true friend?  How can you see a difference with the true friendship?
  • How could Isaac’s reaction prove to be harmful when Rebecca wants and abortion at the beginning of the book?  How might he have reacted better?

General Teaching Resources

  • The novel is written from the perspective of both main characters.  How important is point of view to the story?  How doe the two different points of view enhance the tension in the story?  How might the story be different if it were told in third person?
  • What themes can we pull from the story?  Remember, a theme teaches us truths about human nature.  
  • Write a short narrative using first person point of view to discuss a moral topic you feel strongly about.

Catholic Resources

  • You can read numerous blog posts about abortion on the Lifeteen website.
  • Find out more about a women’s center in your area who help women dealing with unwanted pregnancies.  You can  learn more about the Aid to Women’s Center in Tempe, Arizona, or find one close to you!  If you feel generous, donate diapers, kids clothes, or whatever they might be in need of.
  • Pray the rosary for an end to abortion.
  • Read more of T.M. Gaoutte’s books.
    • Freeing Tanner Rose
    • Saving Faith
    • Guarding Aaron
    • The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch