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Monday, September 27, 2010

Naked In Eden

by Robin Easton
264 pages


*** About the Book ***

Robin has always felt disconnected from the world around her. Mildly autistic but not knowing it, she wanders through her life not able to settle down, not able to “take root” anywhere. When she meets Ian, an Australian man visiting the United States, the two have an immediate connection. They eventually get married and Robin moves with Ian back to Australia. On a whim they decide to camp out in the rainforest for an undetermined amount of time, completely on their own.

Once in the rainforest Robin comes face-to-face with her fears of the unknown (and of all the deadly critters!). As she learns to conquer her fears she comes face-to-face with nature and she begins to see the beauty in the life and death around her. Eventually she begins to strip away the trappings of society and truly know her own self.


*** Why I Read It ***

I read the description of this book at TLC Book Tour’s blog and immediately signed up for it. I love books about people connecting with nature, plus Robin’s story reminded me of The Horse Boy (a book I truly loved).


*** My Thoughts ***

Oh, do I have mixed feelings about this book!

I truly loved the very first page and I was excited to get into the story. When I was a child my family went camping at least once every summer, always alongside the same river, miles from the nearest town. There were usually 10 or more of us, including my cousins’ families, so we had quite a little encampment. We’d dig our own “bathroom”, bathe and wash dishes in the river, and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. All those memories were revived when I read the first page of this book.

The early part of the book deals with Robin’s life before her rainforest experience. Although I didn’t identify with Robin’s disconnectedness from her own life I certainly understood what she was saying. I could see how she was in desperate need of a big change. When Ian comes along he provides not only the push to make the change she needs but also something to connect with.

Robin’s early experiences in the rainforest were where I identified with her the most. I too am afraid of just about every creeping, crawling critter out there. Seeing how she conquered her fears was inspiring. I kept thinking, “I could do that!” Then, of course, she’d do something else and I’d think, “No WAY could I ever do that!” *smile*

As the book progressed Robin began to communicate more and more with the living rainforest around her. I understand that feeling of connectedness (though it’s not something I experience often), of feeling like you are only a very small part of a very large and living world. I too have experienced aliveness, freedom, openness while alone in the forest.  Robin's desire to be naked and free in the rainforest was completely familiar to me.

It was when the trees began to talk back to her – in actual sentences – that she started to lose me.
Not only did the trees talk in sentences but the content and structure of those sentences was rather odd in my opinion. The sentence structure I could partially forgive; it seems to be a common issue throughout the book, as Robin tries to convey the meaning or intent of a situation by forcing it into conversational phrases. But the content … that was a bit beyond me. The trees told her she was autistic, and used that word? Again, a bit beyond the realm of my belief.

And although I understand that crying can be a very cleansing and refreshing activity, it did get a bit tedious to read that Robin was crying yet again - it seemed to happen every few pages.

I was disappointed that the book ended where it did. The note about the author on the TLC page discussed Robin’s musical abilities after she came out of the rainforest but this isn’t mentioned in the book at all. Also, in the acknowledgments at the start of the book Robin mentions her husband Stephan. Stephan? What the heck happened to Ian? I’d really have liked to know more about those two things.

I wanted to love this book and I did truly love many parts of it. If Robin had merely shared about her connection with the rainforest without directly quoting her conversations with the trees I’d have enjoyed it much, much more.


*** Your Thoughts ***

Is this the kind of book that appeals to you? Would you have picked it up, like I did, based on the description? If you’ve read it, what did you think of it?

13 comments:

S. Krishna said...

I really wanted to read this book, so I'm glad to read this review. I might pass on this one. The trees talking to her thing might be a little too much for me as well.

Trisha said...

I tend to shy away from books where there's a lot of crying - or books that want to make the reader cry - so I'll pass on this one. Sorry it didn't work out for you in the end. It stinks when something starts out so promising and fails you at the end.

irisonbooks said...

I don't think I would read this one. It seems a bit much to me, a bit too new-agey? I can't put it in the proper words..

Heather J. said...

S.Krisha - Yeah, you know, I really enjoyed a lot of the rest of the book but that was over the top IMO.

Trisha - Crying characters (and real people) in books doesn't bother me but Robin seemed to be crying almost continually - it was a bit much for me.

irisonbooks - Definitely new-agey in parts, which is probably why it didn't all work for me - I'm not a fan of that type of book. But the early parts were NOT new-agey, and that's why I was so into it for a while.

Amy said...

Great review! I'm glad to see that you liked it more than I did, though we had some similar issues :)

Also, I obviously missed that Stephan bit. Whaaa? I'm thinking the same as you. What happened to Ian?

bermudaonion said...

Talking trees? I don't think this one is for me.

Heather J. said...

Amy - I always ALWAYS read the acknowledgments so the Stephan thing really surprised me ... I kept waiting for him to show up!

bermudaonion - I can understand that. :)

Alyce said...

Oh my! I was entertained reading your review, but don't think I'd be as entertained if I had to read the book myself. The talking trees would be a bit much for me too (even if it was metaphorical).

Heather J. said...

Alyce - Oh no, it was not metaphorical, it was literal. Yeah ...

Ti said...

I just posted my review today. It just didn't do it for me. I question what the intent was because it was a personal journey that perhaps should have remained personal and not published for all the read. There was nothing there to pull the reader in. I really had to search for something to relate to.

Heather J. said...

Ti - You make a good point about "intent" - it does make me look at the book in a different way. But the more I think about it, the more I think that her intent was to share with readers that we can all experience the same oneness with nature that she did. Now whether you buy into that theory or not is a completely DIFFERENT matter. ;)

dowhatyoulove said...

I just loved this book! I loved the connection that Robin developed with nature around her. I think a lot of people do not identify with this aspect because as a society we have moved so far from nature that we can no longer hear her. Many cultures used to/still do communicate at all times with nature and listen to her for the messages she has to share.

I want more copies of this book to share with friends and family! I think it is going to inspire all kinds of people.

Heather J. said...

dowhatyoulove - Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this (and welcome to my blog). I did really identify with much of Robin's story but in the end it wasn't exactly the right book for me. I hope that other people enjoy it more than I did though!

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