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Books by
Linda Nichols


IN SEARCH OF EDEN

IF I GAINED THE WORLD


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IN SEARCH OF EDEN
Linda Nichols
Bethany House Publishers
Fiction
ISBN-10: 0764201670
ISBN-13: 9780764201677

About the Book
Read a Review
Author Interview -- February 16, 2007
Reading Group Guide

Prologue

Eden's hands trembled as she opened the heavy box. She had waited ten years to look at its contents—until the conditions in the instructions had been met. Wait until you don't need to know what's inside the box to know who you are inside your heart, the tag had said. So each year on her birthday she had asked herself if the time was right. And each year something inside her had hesitated, and so she had put it away. This year, on her twenty-first, with college and Christmas and applying to police academy, she had almost forgotten about the box. Mom had reminded her, looking at her with a steady, settled smile. So she knew the time was right.

She lifted off the lid and carefully folded back the sheets of tissue paper. She gave a half smile of puzzlement when she saw the contents. It wasn't what she'd been expecting.

It was an artist's spiral sketch pad—a huge one—and with so many things glued to and stuck between the pages that it bowed out into an arc of papery waves. A scrapbook of sorts, but raw and lively, not polished and cleanly edged. The front was covered with a collage of glue-bubbled images: a country road heading off into the woods, babies and mothers, an iceberg. She fanned the pages and saw sketches and tiny watercolors, handwritten and typed entries, and more magazine pictures. She didn't understand. But she would, and she was finally ready. She opened the front cover, and there inside was an envelope addressed to her. Her heart began to beat faster. She opened the flap and slid out the solitary piece of stationery.

Dearest Eden, she read.

Today is your birthday. I don't know if I will see you, or even if I'm a part of your life. But I want you to know that you are in my heart, as you always have been. I think of you every day. I pray for you every day. I pray that your life will be happy and blessed. I pray I did the right thing.

My friend says the luckiest people are the ones who don't walk away. Those words have settled in, and I carry them around with me because, for most of my life, I was what you would call unreliable. It's not that I wanted to be that way. It's just who I became. I have walked away from almost everything in my life at least once. When things became marred, I always thought they were ruined. I was the kind of person my friend would say was unlucky because I floated away from things like dandelion fluff drifts off in the breeze. Almost before I realized it, I let go of people and jobs and promises and just slipped away, the wind lofting me off to someplace new. But I am getting ahead of myself—another one of my faults.

I'm sure you'll see them all for yourself before I'm finished because I'm going to give you the whole unvarnished story. Not the sanitized version. This is another friend's expression, and it was his idea, too. "Gather it all up," he said. "The old parts and the new parts. The parts you're proud of and the parts you're not, and put them all together in your book. It will be your gift to her," he said, "and you will know the right time to give it." So that is what I've done. I have written all of it down just as I remember it and as others have told me they remember. I've told the tale in total honesty, which, I have to admit, is a good quality of mine. I do have a few, I think. But that's up to you to decide.

Anyway, you'll see. I'll tell you all about what happened and then you can see for yourself whether or not I did the right thing. You're the only one who can really judge. I hope you will do so tenderly, for I am now and always will be,

Your Miranda

Eden took a deep breath and smiled, her joy spilling out from the edges of her too-full heart. She supposed a part of her had always known. Had always hoped. She wanted to get up and run to the phone, to the car, but instead, she read the letter again, slower this time and with tears. And finally, when her heart had become calm and steady and she was ready to know the how and why, she turned the page and stepped into the story.

Excerpted from IN SEARCH OF EDEN Copyright 2017 by Linda Nichols. Reprinted with permission by Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.

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