Review: The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

April 17, 2013 Harper Collins Publishers, Literary Fiction, Review 4

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (April 23, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0062099442
  • Source: Publisher

Seventeen-year-old Evelyn Roe has been given the duty of managing her aunt’s family farm in rural North Carolina. WWII is raging and the family needs to use all resources available to keep up the family horse farm. She discovers what appears to be a badly burned soldier, Evelyn quickly brings the unidentifiable stranger into her home. Its appearance is quiet odd, the gender unidentifiable. What shocks Evelyn the most is the individual’s rapid healing rate and the strange vocalizations it emits. Within a few days, the stranger transforms into a tall red-haired woman, so similar to Evelyn’s own appearance that they can pass as twins. Evelyn is quick to come up with a story to explain the woman’s unexpected arrival.

The days pass and Evelyn and the woman, now named Addie, form a strong and unique relationship. The relationship becomes sexual despite Evelyn’s strong heterosexuality. She craves a conventional life with a husband and children, so Addie grants her this wish. After disappearing for a few days Addie returns, yet not in her original form. She has taken upon the appearance of a man, whom Evelyn refers to as Adam. In this new form, Evelyn and Adam are able to have a “conventional” relationship and eventually wed, bearing five gorgeous children. The close-knit small town has no inkling of Adam’s “uniqueness” until tragedy strikes their idyllic farm town life.  This tragedy forever changes Adam and he loses a bit of the magic he once carried.

As the years pass, Evelyn and Adam’s relationship shifts, largely due to Adam’s “gifts.” Evelyn knew that her life with Adam and the daughters they raised would be far from typical, but as they get older the vastness of Adam’s differences takes a toll on their nontraditional relationship. Adam, too, understands and evaluates these differences and takes their future in his own hands.

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope has got to be one of the most unique novels I have ever read. It is marketed as an “unconventional and passionately romantic love story” along the lines of The Time Traveler’s Wife and I must say it truly lives up to these claims. I’m not one that typically reads love stories but the extreme uniqueness of Adam and Evelyn’s relationship drew me in.

Riley has created a truly unconventional novel that is so eloquently written that it becomes easy for the reader to dispel belief about an extremely unlikely situation. It is an incredibly moving and captivating story that I could not put down for days. The author highlights the magic in everyday life while teetering on the border of the supernatural.

As I read this novel, I kept pausing and contemplating just I could possibly review this book. No matter how I describe it, I feel I’m minimizing the tremendous beauty the author has gifted the reader.  Following is just a sampling of the author’s prose:

Grief is a powerful river in flood. It cannot be argued or reasoned or wrestled down to an insignificant trickle. You must let it take you where it is going. When it pulls you under, all you can do is keep your eyes open for rocks and fallen trees, try not to panic, and stay faceup so you will know where the sky is. You will need that information later. Eventually its waters calm and you will be on a shore far from where you began, raw and sore, but clean and as close to whole as you will ever be again.

I admit to being quite perplexed through the first hundred pages. The author does demand a lot of trust from the reader, requiring one to suspend reality and see past to the beauty and magic of this book. Once one achieves this test, a truly unforgettable and captivating story will be revealed. Highly, highly recommended.

4 Responses to “Review: The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley”

  1. Anita
    Twitter: anitalovesbooks

    Wow, you were right that this book is so very different. I enjoyed your review, and this author surely did something right to create such a tale.

  2. Kelly

    You were tweeting and tweeting about this book, I couldn’t wait to read your review! Definitely looks very different, but in a good way. Makes me want to read as as soon as possible :)

  3. trish

    That is one of the most beautiful passages I’ve ever read. I’ve got this book on my nightstand to read, and I *will* be picking it up soon.

  4. Melinda
    Twitter: melmoiselle0301

    The Time traveler’s wife is one of my favourite movies and yet I haven’t read the book yet. I will sure look out for this book though – it sounds interesting