Why do we fear that we’re not really loved? Why do we do the things we hate? Why is there so much pain in the world? Is there anything we can do about it?
If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, this is a great novel for you.
Gospel Connection — 7/10
East of Eden follows the themes of two biblical narratives: the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Cain and Abel. Steinbeck dives into the darkness of the human heart and the depravity of human interaction, giving rise to both of these tragic stories from Genesis. I’d say he does a great job of making you consider the nature of sin and its devastating affects on humanity, but I don’t think his message is biblical. He negates the necessity for the Holy Spirit in conquering sin and striving for righteousness. All that to say, I think this novel will help you consider the fallenness of humanity and the grace of God in making sinners new. You will grow in your love for the gospel by reading it.
Literary Value — 8/10
Truly, this is a fantastic novel. Steinbeck has a beautiful way of creating empathy for his characters and for placing you right in the middle of the story. It’s a rather long narrative, and by the end you feel as if you’ve lived life alongside these characters. You mourn with them in times of sadness. You celebrate with them in times of triumph. The language is fairly simple, and the story is profoundly engaging.
Overall Rating — 8/10
I wouldn’t say I’m blown away in its brilliance, but this is a great novel and well worth your time. If you’re looking for a novel that will make you consider the condition of the human heart, the fallenness of humanity, and the need for a Savior you’ll be very pleased with this classic novel.