Wow. This book was spectacular. I’ve been avoiding writing a review for a while, because I don’t really know what to say. That happens to me often when books are so expansive. This one covered literally decades, with two different families, and at least a few generations of each. It was… well, yeah. Expansive.
I’m going to focus on characters, since the story really is character-driven.
I loved Sam Hamilton. He was the epitome of good, and I loved him for that. I loved that he did the right thing, always. I loved that he loved Liza, despite her annoying faults. I loved that he loved every one of his kids for their uniqueness. I loved that he was the kind of person Lee would open up to.
I loved Lee. I loved that he, too, was genuinely good. He manipulated people through his use of Pidgin, but he did so in order to make his life work the way he needed it to, and he didn’t do anything bad by speaking Pidgin – he simply gave people what they expected. I really enjoyed that aspect of his story.
Cal, I think, was my favorite. I loved his internal struggle, as he fought so hard to be good, even though he believed that deep down, he was bad. I loved that he fought it. When Adam asked him where Aron was, and he responded with “How do I know? Am I supposed to look after him?” I literally groaned because I was terrified at what Cal might have done, and how he might have fulfilled his legacy of being the bad one, the Cain figure. Thankfully, what he did to Aron still left Aron with a choice, and Cal had to accept that it wasn’t his fault. Timshel. I loved it.
Apparently some people don’t love the fact that Cathy is pure evil, apparently with no real reason or motivation for it. They say it makes her a less believable character. I don’t think so. I think that sometimes, people just choose evil because they can. I think that Cathy’s choices mark her as someone who is selfish, mean, and coldhearted, and I don’t think there needs to be any explanation given for that. It’s just who she is.
The plot was huge. How do you sum up a book like East of Eden? It’s about so much, it’s hard to just give a quick overview. Five stars, definitely.