Book Review – “East”

Edith Pattou’s “East” has seen a faithful  life on my bookshelf since fourth grade. It is a heart-book of mine, a warm blanket and a feet-sweeping adventure all in one. And now, rereading it thirteen years later, it remains as such. 

When Arne married the superstitious Eugenia, he agreed to have seven children with her—one for each point of the compass, excluding North. According to the birth-direction superstition held by Eugenia’s family, the direction a woman faces when giving birth will affect the child’s personality; each direction foretells a different personality, and Eugenia believes North is wild and uncontrollable.

And then Rose was born.

Despite her love for her family, Rose grew up feeling out of place. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, she can’t help but feel that this might be an answer to a life she’s been waiting for all along.

1. How and why did the beginning grab your interest? 

The simplicity of Rose’s family is comforting. Their farm life in Njord brings a feel-good feeling. 

2. At what point did you feel like, “Yes, the story has really begun!” 

Honestly, the way its narrated, the story began on the first page. It might have taken a straighter path when the White Bear made his proposition to the family.

3. Which setting in the book was clearest to you? Did the descriptions seem vivid and colorful enough? 

Clarity was favorited in the castles. Pattou, in my opinion, is not the most decorative or vivid writer. I’d say her storytelling is simple and yet it still reaches your heart and never lets go. The description of emotion is what makes East a heartfelt read. 

4. What was the most suspenseful moment in the book? 

Ice Bridge. I can’t say no more for the sake of those who haven’t read it. 

5. Was there a situation that reminded you of something in your own life? 

Yes, actually, when Rose was suffering isolation and lonesomeness in the castle to the point where she thought she might die. That suffocation of not being able to feel the outside air, the sun… It was a trapped compressing feeling that reminded me of a huge move my family and I made. The first few weeks were bleak. 

6. At what point did you feel the story lagged, or your interest faded? 

Just a little with Rose’s repetitive schedule in the castle, but no, my interest never faded.

7. Was there a favorite part of the book? 

Ice Castle. 

8. Were there any parts of the book that made you cry/angry/annoyed?

Rose’s mother. That woman is aggravating. She means well, though. 

9. Finish this sentence: “I kept reading because…”

Because Rose’s story is not one easily put down. 

10. All in all, how would you rate this book?

“East” deserves all the praise of a beautifully written novel. It stands high on the shelf of uniqueness, and should be crowned with excellence. 

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