One book you don’t want to miss: Review of Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart

When it comes to books, I hate to play favorites because there’s a lot of good stuff out there. And I’m really excited to share with you some great new books over the next few months.

I don’t want to take anything away from other authors I love who write great fiction, but one book I read this month might be the best book I read all year. And if you can only read one fiction book this year, read this one. (But I’m sad if you can only read ONE book in a year. Aim for at least two!)

sleeping in edenSleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart is the kind of book I won’t easily or quickly forget. (And the cover tells a story all its own. Beautiful!) I’ve described her stories as gritty before, and this one qualifies.

Here’s the book summary:

On a chilly morning in the Northwest Iowa town of Blackhawk, Dr. Lucas Hudson is filling in for the vacationing coroner on a seemingly open-and-shut suicide case. His own life is crumbling around him, but when he unearths the body of a woman buried in the barn floor beneath the hanging corpse, he realizes this terrible discovery could change everything. Lucas is almost certain the remains belong to Angela Sparks, the missing daughter of the man whose lifeless body dangles from a rope above.  When Angela went missing years earlier, he and his wife never really believed she was just another teenage runaway.  Fueled by passion, Lucas resolves to uncover the details of Angela’s suspected death, to bring some closure to their small community and to his wife. But his obsession may not be able to fix what is broken, and Lucas may be chasing shadows…

Years before Lucas ever set foot in Blackhawk, Meg Painter met Dylan Reid. It was the summer before high school and the two quickly became inseparable. Although Jess, Meg’s older neighbor, was the safe choice, she couldn’t let go of Dylan and the history they shared no matter how hard she tried. Caught in a web of jealousy and deceit that spiraled out of control, Meg’s choices in the past ultimately collide with Lucas’s investigation in the present, weaving together a taut story of unspoken secrets and the raw, complex passions of innocence lost.

Baart creates characters I feel like I know with a depth of emotion that makes them not just realistic, but real. I can see Lucas and feel Meg. And even though we’re given a clue about where the story is heading, I couldn’t predict what the characters would do.

For me, that’s a great story.

Sleeping in Eden does not offer easy answers to life’s toughest questions, but it is a story that leaves the reader with hope.

And that’s what I’ve come to love about Baart’s work. She doesn’t duck tough circumstances. Her characters almost always find themselves in the midst of a personal nightmare. An unplanned pregnancy. A family member’s suicide. A crumbling marriage. Grief. And through the stories, they tackle the big stuff: revenge and forgiveness, perception and identity, passivity and passion, love and acceptance.

Sleeping in Eden releases in April, but I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. Put this one on your must-read list.

In exchange for my review, I received an advance digital copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley.