Becoming Calder by Mia Sheridan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"And just like that, the whole world was a place I no longer recognized."
Becoming Calder is the story of love, sacrifice, and the realization that life isn't always what you think it is.
Calder and Eden live in Acadia, a religious sect separated from the world. Eden is promised to Hector, the leader of Acadia. She is to wed him when she comes of age so the group will be able to get to Elysium, their version of heaven. However, as the story unfolds and Calder and Eden grow up, it becomes apparent that Acadia has many cult-like tendencies. Nothing is quite as it seems, and Hector is a volatile, angry leader. When Eden and Calder begin to explore a friendship that turns into something more, they must choose between the life they've known and the big world outside of Acadia. However, Hector isn't going to let Eden go without a price.
I was entranced by this book from page one. Sheridan paints a clear image of Acadia as a utopian environment--and then she tears that image right down. To see Eden and Calder's acceptance of their way of life turn into questioning stirs themes of identity and happiness. Both believe in the values of Acadia without question until certain events make them wonder if they are living a lie. This realization drives the plot of the book forward and hooks the reader.
Calder and Eden are both developed fully throughout the novel. I loved watching them grow and learn about life, about the world, and about who they really are. Most of all, I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and develop. Their love is pure and rich but also passionate. In a hopeless situation, their love drives them forward, really showing that love can save us. I was rooting for their love story the entire book, even up through the exciting ending.
Sheridan does an amazing job at weaving tension into the story. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, my stomach twisting with fear for the two protagonists. I loved that we got to see the story from both Eden and Calder's perspective because it only heightened my appreciation for their relationship and for what they both had to lose.
This book is beautiful in the simplicity of the world Eden and Calder fall in love, but also in the complexity of it. As the story unfolds, you realize that Eden and Calder's love is their saving grace and is even more of a treasure considering the circumstances in which it blossoms. This book is a refreshing reminder of what freedom and love truly look like. I will definitely be reading more books by Sheridan, including the sequel, Finding Eden.
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