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Children's Fiction General

Almost Eden

by (author) Anita Horrocks

Initial publish date
Apr 2006
General, General, Emotions & Feelings
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2006
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 18
  • Grade: 5 to 12


It is the hot prairie summer of her twelfth year and Elsie is at a crossroads. Her beloved mother who is mentally ill has been hospitalized, and Elsie thinks that the breakdown is all her fault. Mental illness is simply not discussed in Elsie’s close-knit Mennonite community and she is rudderless. Nothing Elsie does seems to go right: there’s no pleasing her bossy older sister; she forgets to feed the cat, so her father gives it away; she’s supposed to watch out for her younger sister, but she lets her come home alone from the swimming pool (despite the lurking menace of a weird stranger around town); and she bargains with God to make her mother well again — to no evident avail.

Elsie’s conversations with God, her struggle to overcome guilt, and her honest desire to prove herself are laced with a wicked wit and clarity of vision. Almost Eden is a beautiful portrait of a town, a family, and a young woman willing to challenge the things that don’t make sense to her, and to fix the things that don’t seem right.

About the author

Anita Horrocks was born in The Pas, Manitoba, and grew up in Winkler, a small Mennonite community on the prairies of southern Manitoba. After high school she moved to Alberta, where she earned diplomas in Ecological Sciences and later, Print Journalism. She worked digging for dinosaur fossils, as a park interpreter and as a freelance writer before becoming public relations co-ordinator for the University of Lethbridge. She lives in Lethbridge with her husband, Bryan.

Anita Horrocks' profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Topher:

“[Topher] gives mystery fans ages 10 to 12 exactly what they want… [It] can stimulate a young reader’s curiosity (and pulse rate) from start to finish.”
Quill & Quire

“…a dramatic, suspenseful story that will keep you wondering and guessing right to the end.”
Lethbridge Herald

Praise for What They Don’t Know:

London Free Press

Librarian Reviews

Almost Eden

Elsie Redekop is the central character in Anita Horrocks’ latest book, which takes place in a small, largely Mennonite, town in southern Manitoba.

The story is set during the early 1970s, in the summer of Elsie’s twelfth year when her New Order Mennonite family has to deal with her mother’s hospitalization for depression. Elsie tries hard to make everything right again. But between friendship and sibling difficulties, nothing seems to turn out. These are realities that all young girls have to deal with and readers of all backgrounds will find themselves identifying with Elsie’s trials. We all want to cheer her on.

Desperate to think of ways to make her mother better, Elsie tries to find ways to cheer her up, prays to God and ultimately bargains with Him. She loses her faith in the doctors treating her mother and, shockingly, her faith in God, an unsettling turn of events for her religious family.

The author adds interest and humour by peppering the book with various phrases in Plautdietsch, or Mennonite Low German, which is, as we discover, a wonderfully evocative language. Also included is a glossary of Plautdietsch phrases for the reader’s convenience.

This novel is a treat to read, as it depicts one special girl’s summer in a unique family and town, which, not surprisingly, resonates with us all.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2006. Vol.29 No. 3.

Almost Eden

After several trials, Elsie horrifies her Mennonite family – and herself – by losing trust in God. The award-winning author deftly portrays a young girl struggling to find her faith.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

Other titles by Anita Horrocks