A bold, page-turning novel that follows how a childhood abduction sets two sisters on very different courses
One of “Summer’s Smartest and Most Innovative Thrillers” (Vanity Fair): A bold, page-turning novel that follows the rippling effects of a childhood abduction on two sisters
Every other weekend, Hope and Eden—backpacks, Walkmans, and homework in hand—wait for their father to pick them up, as he always does, at a strip-mall bus stop. It’s the divorce shuffle; they’re used to it. Only this weekend, he’s screwed up, forgotten, and their world will irrevocably change when a stranger lures them into his truck with a false story and smile.
Twenty years later. Hope discovers that the man who abducted them is up for parole and the sisters might be able to offer testimony to keep him in jail. There’s only one problem: Eden is nowhere to be found.
Hope sets out on a harrowing quest—from hippie communes to cities across the country, and into her own troubled past—to track down her sister. Will she find Eden in time? And what will she learn about herself along the way?
It was embarrassing to take the bus, but it was doubly embarrassing to hand the driver a coupon that had been cut out of the back of a Cheerios box. My father ate Cheerios for breakfast every day except Sundays, and then he ate eggs. When my parents divorced, back when I was ten, my father moved from Charlottesville out to the country, sort of toward DC but sort of toward the mountains, and fixed up an old house. My sister, Eden, and I took the Greyhound bus to visit him every other weekend because neither our father nor my mother was willing to make the ninety-minute drive each way. My mother insisted it was our father’s responsibility. Our father thought he was paying my mother more than enough for child support, considering she had a decent job and he never had to pay Eden’s mom, Suriya, anything. He tried to bargain with my mother to drop us off at a shopping mall halfway, but she refused. He drove us the first year and a half until he spotted the bus coupons on the back of the Cheerios box, and then he never picked us up or drove us home again.
Eden always let me give the tickets to the bus driver. I was excited at first that she let me do it, since she was two years older, but when I realized I had been duped into having the uncool job, she said, “No givebacks.” I had to go on the bus first and hand over the tickets, and Eden could wait and lag behind, distancing herself from me and the embarrassing Cheerios coupon. Her preferred seating arrangement was to have her own two seats and she would sit wherever she wanted, forcing me to move closer to her if she sat too far away. If I tried to sit down next to her, she would say, “Hope not,” which was her way of politely saying “Fuck off,” since my name is Hope.
The bus station was next to a dentist’s office in a small strip mall of only four shops and a Jack in the Box that had been closed since our dad moved to his small town. If our dad wasn’t there to pick us up, Eden and I would wait inside the station on the single row of connected plastic chairs and read or do homework until he showed up in his old VW bus, which we called The Camper. When my parents divorced, my mom got the car and our dad got The Camper.
One Friday, when I was in my first semester of high school, our dad was late. I got tired of trying to do my Algebra homework. Eden put on her headphones and popped a mixtape in her Walkman and ignored me when I asked for help, even though she was taking Trig and was good at it. We stared at the television bolted to the ceiling and watched as the programs segued from news to game shows to a really dumb movie to news again. The parking lot had grown dark and we couldn’t see anything out of the windows except our own muddy reflection. We were the only ones in the station and other buses had already come and gone. The guy behind the counter asked, “You girls need to call someone?” and Eden quickly replied, “No.” The ticket agent sighed, like he was just trying to be a nice person and why did Eden have to be so unfriendly in return. He hit a button on his cash register and printed out the long receipt of the day. A few minutes later he said he had to close up the station for the night. “You girls are going to have to wait outside,” he said, obviously somewhat uncomfortable with the situation but not wanting to get involved with us any further. “There’s a pay phone over there if you need to call someone,” he said, pointing to a post at the opposite end of the strip mall. Eden and I sat on the curb outside the station and watched him drive away.
Eden lit up a clove cigarette. I liked the way they smelled, so I didn’t pester her that she shouldn’t smoke.
“Why didn’t you want to call?” I asked.
“Because I didn’t,” Eden said. She dug her Walkman out of the pocket of her trench coat and flipped over the cassette.
“If we had called, Dad would’ve been here by now,” I said.
“No, he wouldn’t have answered because he’s either on his way or his car broke down.”
“What are we supposed to do if his car broke down?”
“I don’t fucking know,” she said.
“Maybe he got the weekends mixed up and he doesn’t know to come and get us.”
“Then he’s really fucked up.” She put on her headphones and pressed play and I was cut out. She was done with me.
Finally, headlights turned into the parking lot and swept over us. Eden half hid her cigarette behind her hip and pulled off her headphones. A pickup truck drove up next to the bus station and a skinny guy in jeans got out. “Hey,” he said. “Sorry you girls had to wait so long. I’m Larry. I’m a friend of your dad’s. He had some serious car trouble so he asked me to come get you.”
The whole thing played out like the script they read you in school about how you shouldn’t get into a stranger’s car, even if he offers you ice cream, even if he says he’s a friend of your dad’s. Larry probably sensed this, because he said, “I met you before, but you were really little. You probably don’t remember. It was at a birthday party for you,” he pointed at Eden, “when you were three or four maybe. You were just a baby,” he said to me.
We stared at him, unsure of what to say. Eden was usually the one to take charge in these situations, but she was silent. Eden thought that once you were over sixteen you were basically an adult, and she didn’t like being reminded that she had ever been a little girl. She flicked away her cigarette and crossed her arms over her chest. Larry leaned back against the truck. “Or, do you want to wait out here another hour while your dad finds someone else to come get you? ’Cause I do want to eat dinner at some point before breakfast.”
Eden picked up her backpack. “Let’s go,” she said.
Larry walked around to the driver’s side. “You want to squeeze up front, or you want to sit in the back?” he asked.
“The back,” Eden said.
“Wait,” I said.
“What? The back is better,” Eden said. She lowered her voice. “I don’t want to sit next to him.”
“I don’t want to go,” I said, slightly above a whisper.
“I don’t know.”
Eden rolled her eyes. “Lots of people ride in backs of trucks,” she said.
“I don’t like him.”
“Well, too bad. He’s friends with Dad.”
“How do you know?”
Eden rolled her eyes again. “Do you have to have proof of everything?” she asked.
“Dad would’ve given him a note or something.”
Eden sighed a loud sigh. “Look, I remember him from my birthday party.”
I was shocked that she did because I couldn’t remember my fourth birthday party at all. “You do?”
“Yes,” she said. “It was in the backyard and we had little individual containers of ice cream. I dropped mine on the ground and we didn’t have
Included in The New Yorker’s “Briefly Noted”
One of Vanity Fair's "Summer's Smartest and Most Innovative Thrillers"
?One of Nylon’s “Great Books to Read this Summer”
One of BBC.com's "10 Books to Read in July"
One of Bitch Media's "Books Feminists Should Read in July"
One of Bustle's "Books You Need to Know This Week"
One of Chronogram's "6 Books to Read this Summer"
One of iBooks "Summer's Most Anticipated Books"
One of The Millions's "Most Anticipated"
A Publisher’s Lunch “Emerging Voice”
"Kleine’s crisp sentences paint Hope as a protagonist with watchful eyes in a world that confuses her. The mystery of Eden unfolds across America with humor and some clever detective work, combining a page-turner with a moving meditation on the limitations of family amidst trauma."—Vanity Fair, "Summer's Smartest and Most Innovative Thrillers"
"A devastating, revelatory examination of trauma, memory, creation, and the ways in which we define ourselves according to our experiences."—NYLON, "Great Books to Read this Summer"
"Kleine renders the people Hope loves and the trauma that holds her back with subtlety and compassion."—BBC.com, "10 Books to Read in July"
"This disturbing novel explores the aftermath of childhood trauma...Kleine conjures a character whose desire to understand her flaws and to connect with others shows her to be much more than a victim."—The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted"
“I read this novel in one sitting because I simply couldn’t stop reading…when I closed the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about Hope and Eden, and what would happen next.”—Book Riot, "The Best Books We Read in June 2018"
"Eden is that rare bird of a book that manages to be both a page-turner and a moving and stark meditation—on sisterhood, violence, trauma, memory, and how a single event can shape a life."—Chronogram, "6 Books to Read this Summer"
"Fascinating...the grown-up part of Hope’s life as a lovelorn, struggling playwright living in New York City is riveting.”—New York Journal of Books
"Powerful and harrowing."—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Don’t miss this haunting novel with heartbreaking themes of attachment and trauma."—Hello Giggles
"Hope has lost everything: She’s been dumped by her long-term girlfriend, kicked out of her apartment, and orphaned after her mother dies from cancer. But Larry, a man who, years before, abducted Hope and her half-sister, Eden, from a bus station is eligible for parole. Hope believes Larry should stay in prison, but the district attorney thinks she and Eden will have to share more information about the kidnapping with the parole board to guarantee that. That’s how Hope embarks on a cross-country journey to find her estranged sister and confront the trauma that’s she been avoiding for far too long."—Bitch Media, "11 Books Feminists Should Read in July"
"Twenty years ago, Hope and her sister Eden were kidnapped when their father forgot to pick them up after school. Now, their captor is eligible for parole, and Eden is nowhere to be found. Racing against the testimony clock, Hope sets out on a journey to find her sister."—BUSTLE, "15 New Books With Fall-Colored Covers To Bring Some Autumn Fun To Your Nightstand"
"Kleine is no stranger to violence, and Eden is a hard, sometimes frightening look at the way trauma follows us."—The Millions, "Most Anticipated"
"It would be easy to read Eden as a literary mystery exploring trauma and its after-effects, yet Kleine is up to something more diffuse and sprawling. I was as drawn in to the details of the semi-struggling artist’s life, which recalled Lynne Tillman’s brainy downtown deadpan, as I was to Hope’s increasingly dispirited search for Eden in an old VW camper van."—Lambda Literary Review
"I really liked Eden by Andrea Kleine, about how a childhood abduction changes two sisters' lives—the voice is so interesting and unique, and the book has that combination of darkness and funny hopefulness that I love."—Emily Gould, Emily Books
"Fascinating...a gripping portrait of the lingering effects of trauma."—Publishers Weekly
“A compelling tale…striking.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Performance artist Kleine portrays a young woman’s bumpy and sometimes uncomfortable journey toward resolution and self-reliance in this novel of discovery and healing."—Library Journal
"Eden is an artful, deeply engrossing and moving novel about our struggle to understand how our past (and our understanding of the past) has shaped who we are. Hope, a survivor who narrates the novel from both her childhood and from her adulthood, is a wonderfully realized and nuanced character. She is flawed, complicated, a mess—but she is also far stronger and wiser than she realizes."—Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others
"The best novels name those aspects of surviving that we know only from the inside, to which we have not, or cannot bear to put words. In this novel, Andrea Kleine has articulated the way trauma creates us, and we, in turn, create it: as a story, a song, a sister, a sore place that we worry as if our touch might heal. In these characters she has articulated the many dark and beautiful things that come when we face our pasts and ourselves, and that hard alternate freedom--of running away."—Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart andAbandon Me
“Eden is totally consuming and hard to put down. Andrea Kleine writes with wit and heart in this devastating and beautiful novel about sisterhood, violence, and how a single event can shape a life.”—Swan Huntley, author of The Goddesses and We Could Be Beautiful
"An unsentimental limning of the misuses of innocence and art-making that manages to break your heart from page one. Eden is a tasty, nasty, finally sweet bite out of lots of modern tropes: trauma, memory, attachment, consequence."—Rebecca Wolff, author of The Beginners and One Morning
“Andrea Kleine’s gripping, intelligent novel is a work of great honesty. We meet Hope as she sorts through her strained life having survived abduction as a child, and journey with her as she accumulates strength in a search for her half-sister, Eden. I was engrossed by this story through its final pages.”—...
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