I’m not one to claim that every book I read changes my life. I can see what they are saying, and then I choose to either accept or deny the viewpoints of the author. With the case of East of Eden by John Steinbeck, I believe that it presents some valid reasoning. It isn’t a short book. In fact the overview of the book would be described as a tri-generational family history, that follows the Trask family, and their moral conflicts dealing with money, life purpose, and jealousy.
As the name implies, there are many biblical references, most of which must be drawn by the reader. The book explores the all great question of why we do the things we do, yet does not come off as being didactic. Some motivations are more worthy than others is an idea that is explored. The book has been on many banned book lists through the years, which pretty much guarantees a good read, because it usually means that things are said which needed to be, but haven’t due to our society’s (or the one in which the book was first presented) tendency to sweep anything under the rug which may not reflect a positive light upon it.
The characters contrast each other enough that no-matter who you are, you are sure to find a favorite, and cheer them on as they trudge through their entire life, or a large portion due to the length of the book.
A favorite of many people, is the character of Cathy Ames, who has been the subject of much acclaim and criticism due to the strength of her character. You may have heard of Matt Costa, an Indie-Folk artist whose song “Ballad of Miss Kate” is about the character. Don’t listen to the song if you don’t want to hear a couple of spoilers, however.
One interesting thing about the book, is that many of the characters are actually real people. John Steinbeck began under the premise of it being a family history, though many of the family legends that happened to and around his relatives are included. It is left to the reader to decipher which is true, and which is embellishment.