The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope - Rhonda Riley
In the waning months of World War II, young Evelyn Roe’s life is transformed when she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier, all but completely buried in the heavy red-clay soil on her family’s farm in North Carolina. When Evelyn rescues the stranger, it quickly becomes clear he is not a simple man. As innocent as a newborn, he recovers at an unnatural speed, and then begins to change—first into Evelyn’s mirror image, and then into her complement, a man she comes to know as Adam.
Evelyn and Adam fall in love, sharing a connection that reaches to the essence of Evelyn’s being. But the small town where they live is not ready to accept the likes of Adam, and his unusual origin becomes the secret at the center of their seemingly normal marriage.
Adam proves gifted with horses, and together he and Evelyn establish a horse-training business. They raise five daughters, each of whom possesses something of Adam’s supernatural gifts. Then a tragic accident strikes the family, and Adam, in his grief, reveals his extraordinary character to the local community. Evelyn and Adam must flee to Florida with their daughters to avoid ostracism and prying doctors. Adrift in their new surroundings, they soon realize that the difference between Adam and other men is greater than they ever imagined.
Intensely moving and unforgettable, The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope captures the beauty of the natural world, and explores the power of abiding love and otherness in all its guises. It illuminates the magic in ordinary life and makes us believe in the extraordinary.
To be frank, I don't know where to start on this book. I was originally supposed to post my review last week but I could not because I had to re-read some passages and this book was emotional. Not because it's sad or anything (though some parts are), but because it really challenges a lot about love. Evelyn finds a young man seemingly half buried in her back yard but soon after bringing him inside of the farm she has inherited, she quickly realizes he isn't quite ordinary. His face and entire body are disfigured, much like a burn victim, and he doesn't appear to have any particular facial features. His gender.. his a little ambiguous to say the least. But over the course of a few days the person changes. First changes into what will become Addie- seemingly Evelyn's twin. And while traumatic and a little shocking to Evelyn, the two quickly become inseparable.
Addie has gifts with animals but also through singing. Without opening her mouth. It's clear from the beginning she's obviously not like Evelyn and over time, the almost soul mate connection between the two leads to an intimate relationship that Evelyn wants, but also fears.
But over time, Evelyn realizes she really wants to get married, become a mother, raise a family. Addie recognizes this as well and feeling such an emotional bond to Evelyn, she does something to make this happen for Evelyn.
In a few days, in walks Adam.
Unlike Addie who is virtually a twin of Evelyn, Adam is more her compliment. The male version of herself. Over time they marry, have several children with unique birthing situations because of the uncertainty of what Adam is exactly, and they live a happy and normal life. Until a tragedy hits the family and turns everyone upside down. The immeasurable grief changes Adam and when he does something in front of the community that basically scares the Jesus out of them, Evelyn goes into protective mode. She understands him and knows nobody else will.
(Side note: this is where I felt like something rammed into my chest, because I got it. Sometimes I look at Matt with some of the issues he deals with privately and while I don't really understand why he does it, I sometimes feel like it's my job to protect him. I feel like I could never really leave him because he would be alone and I couldn't let him be ridiculed. It's me that keeps him in check and it's me that helps him navigate acceptable social behaviors, etc. And sometimes I feel there's a bigger reason that we matched up.)
So over the town gossip, Evelyn decides to pack up the family and just leave. They go to Florida and start a brand new life which seems to rejuvenate Adam. Unfortunately, it's around this time when Evelyn realizes that as she ages through her years, Adam does not. It becomes a little awkward and Adam tries to make this right because he wants to do everything for Evelyn, give her the world, give her the best possible life. What pulls at you is their love. It may not always be easy, the amount of love for each other is huge. It's like a couple that if you're in the same room you can't help but notice and feel how much they love each other. Which is exactly like Adam and Evelyn- times ten.
And one day, it all ends without warning. I'll be honest- the ending hit me hard. I cried. I cried because I was sad it wasn't a forever love story, I cried because you don't know what happens to Adam. I can't even pose all of the questions I was left with at the end of the book because it'll ruin the majority of the book for you. But please read this. If you read nothing else I recommend, read this one. It will pull at you. It's one of those books that doesn't have a major, dramatic story line, but it's the story of a life. A life that seems so much like yours but at the same time nowhere near your ordinariness. Here's a quick video of the author explaining the novel. In a much more eloquent way than I can share.
Also take a peek at Rhonda's Facebook page. But I'm telling you- this is going to be the best book of the year for me, I can feel it. It will easily make my Top 10 favorite books of all time. The writing is so beautiful, it's so true to life, and you just connect with Evelyn. You really start to feel like you're sitting with a new friend as she tells you her story in a nursing home visitor lounge. I can't give this book enough praise. Absolutely wonderful.