my year long journey has come to a close. i have finally finished east of eden by john steinbeck. i picked it up at a famous bookstore in paris and traveled across europe with it. and then i returned home, and traveled all around ohio with it. i would take it everywhere with me, just in case i had time to read a little more and progress a bit further.

i was initially drawn to the novel because of the title, and it’s obvious biblical allegory to the fall from grace and mankind’s move away from eden: that tangible metaphor for being farther and farther from perfection. i had heard of steinbeck, but had never read any of his works, and yet this book drew me in from the start and kept me coming back again and again. until i finished it. today.

as soon as i finished the last page i broke into tears because the entire story line was just so beautiful. the theme, of having a choice to  break away from all the evils we inherit and we commit, spoke to me so strongly. it still does. it speaks to my soul.

steinbeck’s character’s are so carefully created and wonderfully detailed. no matter how messed up they are (and there are definitely some cringe-worthy moments), you can’t just walk away from them. he does such a good job of alternately explaining motivation and giving the reader just enough to infer motivation for themself. the storylines that steinbeck weaves together are so raw, so gritty, so terrifying, so beautiful, so recognizable that you can’t help but become emotionally involved. it’s one of those timeless novels that still speaks volumes about humanity today, and will, i think, continue to evoke these kinds of reactions from future generations.

the story spans multiple generations, and it most certainly has biblical undertones, but it’s believeable. some authors include biblical references and make their story seem very “i promise it will all be okay because god loves us”, which is an awesome message, but where is the human element? how is that realistic to someone who is in the middle of a struggle that is very real and very gripping, and very not okay right now? lollipop theology is great for making people feel good, and it definitely has it’s purposes, but what it often lacks is an ability to make a deep and lasting connection and influence on people.

this book, this amazing piece of art, does just that. the sinner in all of us can read it and still get a biblical message of hope, but it’s not all cotton candy and lollipops. it’s biblical references go deeper: to the human struggle that is at the heart of the bible itself. life is hard, sometimes shit gets out of hand, and we all do things that we’re not proud of. but we all also have a choice: thou mayest choose your own course. you can rise above, or you can not.

the theme of the book is so beautifully raw and honest. it speaks to my soul. it sings to my soul. my connection with this book started out in the heart of paris, and through travels, sins, a roller coaster of emotions, more sins, and this message of hope and choice, i have fallen helplessly in love with it. it is truly, by far, the greatest book i have ever read. it’s a spectacular piece of art that i believe will stand the test of time and continue to speak it’s message to many more generations.