Intriguing Havah Explores Life in Eden

Susan Ellingburg

Author:  Tosca Lee
Title:  Havah: The Story of Eve
Publisher:  B&H Books

From the pages of glowing reviews at the front of this book, one would think it's the greatest novel to hit bookshelves since Gone with the Wind. And maybe it is.

If you're the kind of person who likes to re-read The Divine Romance on a regular basis, this should definitely be your next book purchase. If, on the other hand, you're more the "Cut the poetry and get on with it, for pity's sake" type, Havah will be more of a challenge. I have to say I found the first hundred pages heavy going. Its lush, lyrical view of life in the Garden of Eden was all very nice, but I found myself skimming pages, muttering, "So you get to play with the lions, lovely, can we just move on?"

Once the no-longer-happy couple got booted from the Garden, the story became—to my mind, at least—significantly more interesting. Their mutual betrayal of each other, as well as God, required some emotional give and take from both parties, something they never really had to do before. The guilt was overwhelming and it's all touch and go until Adam persuades Eve they have reason to survive. "Today I name you Havah because you will live, and all who live will come from you, and you will give birth to hope."

Meanwhile, they have to figure out how to survive in a Creation that quietly degrades around them. Everything is uncharted territory. When Havah is expecting her first child, they have to guess from watching animals how long her pregnancy will last. Think about it:  alone among humanity, these two people were "born" adults. They'd never seen a human baby before theirs came along. They'd never been children themselves, so they just had to figure it out as they went along.

From a Christian worldview, especially seen from the comfortable distance of millennia later, it seems obvious that when God told the serpent that Eve's offspring would "crush your head," He was referring to Jesus and His eventual triumph that first Easter. From Havah's perspective, the offspring in question meant her firstborn, Kayin. (We know him as Cain.) Like many a mother after her, Havah plays favorites with her children. She's impatient for Kayin to crush the serpent and get them all back to the Garden where they belong.

Alas, as anyone who's read Genesis 1 knows, things don't turn out quite the way she planned.

Author Tosca Lee has taken the first four chapters of the Bible and filled in details I never even thought to wonder about. Did Adam and Eve tell their children about their life in the Garden? If so, did they include the part about forbidden fruit or conveniently leave that out? What was it like to be the first humans?

I found Havah intriguing, thoughtful, and creative. It brings Adam, Eve, and their children to life like nothing I've read before. But is Havah a great book? You'll have to decide that for yourself.

**This review first published on August 23, 2010.