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Waiting for Eden
Elliot Ackerman
Reviewed by Phil


Seriously injured while on patrol in an overseas warzone, Eden Malcolm is flown back to the States for treatment. He is not expected to survive the flight home but, against all odds, makes it. Now he lies in a hospital bed, barely alive, paralyzed and unable to speak. His doctors and nurses believe he is unaware of his surroundings.

Eden’s wife, Mary, had not wanted him to re-enlist. She tried desperately to become pregnant, hoping that Eden would stay home if he thought he was going to be a father. She finally succeeds, but Eden re-enlists anyway. Now he has a daughter that he has never seen.

Mary spends each day in an armchair beside his hospital bed. For three years she visits without a break, then, one Christmas, relents and leaves Eden to visit her mother for three days.

While Mary is away, Eden flickers back to consciousness. Over the next days and weeks, Mary and Eden painstakingly establish communication using a code Eden learned as part of a torture survival course he took before deployment. He has questions about his wife, and about his daughter, but he is not sure he wants the answers… He is not even sure he wants to live anymore, but Mary has other plans.

The story is narrated by Eden’s friend, a fellow soldier who did not make it back home. He haunt’s Eden’s past and present, sharing stories and slowly revealing the truth about Eden and Mary and their daughter, Andromeda.

Waiting for Eden is an exploration of love, fidelity and loyalty. It’s a thought-provoking study of choices and the consequences that come with them. Ackerman’s prose is spare and compelling, setting the perfect tone for his story. This is a powerful book.

Eliot Ackerman served in the Marine Corps for eight years. His 2017 novel, Dark at the Crossing, was a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives in New York City and Washington DC.

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