Monday, May 27, 2013

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

First-time novelist Rhonda Riley has crafted a magical tale in The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, narrated in the voice of Evelyn Hope.

"My husband was not one of us. He remains, after decades, a mystery to me. Inexplicable.
Sarah, our youngest daughter, sent me a photograph weeks ago, a full year since she moved to China with her husband, Jian, and their son, Michael. In it, her hair is glossy dark brown and straight. Her eyes are a deep brown as well, and the folds of her eyelids now suggest Asian ancestry. Her curly red hair and gold-flecked green Irish eyes are gone; in her new skin, she is her father's daughter. Lil, my daughter who lives with me now, insists that Sarah must have had plastic surgery and dyed her hair. She's puzzled and disappointed that her sister would take such measures to fit in where she now lives. But I know the truth."

This is all from the first page, so I'm not giving away too much. Adam Hope is most definitely not "one of us." Adam is not human. Shortly after the end of WWII, Evelyn pulls a body covered in mud from the red clay of her North Carolina farm. This being soon morphs into Evelyn's mirror image and the two become lovers.

Imagine Orlando (Virginia Woolf) and Every Day (David Levithan) and Camouflage (Joe Haldeman) and Patience and Sarah (Isabel Miller) all rolled into one. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is an unusual and powerful story about otherness. I look forward to hearing Riley talk about her work at Booktopia in Bellingham in a couple of weeks.

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