I will begin this entry by showing one example of the liberties that are allowed to be taken with Judeo/Christian beliefs. This particular book is listed as an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and is also a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Top Ten Award winner.
The summary on the copyright page of this book reads as follows:
Retells the tale of the Garden of Eden from Eve’s point of view, as Serpent teaches her everything from her own name to why she should eat the forbidden fruit, and then leaves her with Adam and the knowledge that her choice has made mankind free.
The summary on the Lexile Find a Book website comes from an external source which is unnamed:
In the beginning . . . There was the Serpent, there for Eve's awakening, and for all the days since. Teacher, mentor, companion, friend, and more. There was God. The Creator. Quick to anger. Dangerous. Majestic. There was Adam: as God said, a joy to behold. And there was Eve. These four hold the future in their hands. And only Eve — or perhaps the Serpent, too — wonders what lies outside the Garden of Eden. Passionate, witty, beautifully drawn, and utterly unforgettable, The Garden, a debut novel, remakes and offers insights into a story that forms a cornerstone of our understanding.
The Garden, by Elsie V. Aidinoff (daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt III, the 59th Governor of Rhode Island), is a book about THE Garden, and involves the same four described in the Biblical account—God, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. In Aidinoff’s account, God raises Adam, and the Serpent raises Eve. The following excerpt is taken from this book that Accelerated Reader lists for children in grades nine to twelve, and has a fourth grade, seventh month reading level.
In this scene, God demands that Adam and Eve have intercourse:
“I designed it beautifully,” God went on. “But of course it hasn’t been tried yet. . . . I hadn’t planned to do it so soon, but now that I’ve seen you together, getting along so well . . . I can’t wait any longer. You’ll be the first . . . the first of all mankind to love each other, the first to know the joys of physical love! And in so doing you’ll prove that, like everything I’ve made, this too is perfect!”
“Why do we have to prove it? Aren’t you sure?” . . .
God frowned. “Of course I’m sure, of course it’s perfect! How could it not be? It’s just that—I want to see it happen, so I know it works! . . . Come over here to the meadow and lie down. Both of you.” (p. 96)
Adam rolled over carefully and covered my body with his. He was heavy. “Enter her,” ordered God.
“I don’t like this,” I muttered. I was suffocating (page 98) under Adam’s weight.
“Don’t be silly,” said God. “it’s beautiful!”
“Oh, oh!” I cried as Adam entered my body. “Stop! It hurts!” Adam stopped. (99)
Go on, Adam go on!” shouted God. “She says it hurts,” said Adam. “I don’t want to hurt her.”
“You’re not hurting her. Eve, you’re just imagining things. There is no pain in Eden.”
I screamed, “It hurts, it hurts!” “It doesn’t hurt,” said God. “It’s got to be nice! Keep on, Adam.”
Adam began to move. I screamed again. I could feel my insides rip. The world settled, a burning blade of pain between my legs. I grabbed Adam’s hair and tried to shove him away. (99)
“Stop being silly, Eve!” commanded God. “Adam, go on, go on!” But by now Adam was beyond any command. His whole body bore down on mine, all his force behind his passion. . . .
Two more thrusts and he lay still across my body. Sweat flowed from his face, his arms, his buttocks, and mixed with my tears. God leaned over us and smiled. “Good,” he said. “It’s done. It works.” (pp. 98-99) . . . I wept. (p. 100)
Later, the Serpent talks with Eve about this rape.
“God,” it said, “was far more at fault than Adam. He knew what he had planned was not right, not at that time. He knew I would not approve and made sure I wouldn’t be there. But he couldn’t see anything wrong in encouraging Adam to make love to Eve . . .” . . . “God too was swept away by passion—a different kind from Adam’s—his passion to find out whether his invention would work. God was selfish, egotistical, insensitive . . .” (p. 311)
In a later section of this book, the Serpent evidently shape shifts and has passionate sex with Eve that culminates with them both expressing their love for each other.
In an interview with Michelle Pauli in The Guardian, Aidinoff stated:
"But for myself, I have no faith, certainly not in a Christian God. In the process of writing this book, in fact, Christianity has come to seem more and more unlikely . . .”
In that same article from The Guardian, Aidinoff “jokingly suggests that she wishes the state of Texas would ban her book, for the publicity benefits it would bring.”
That’s where we are. Challenge a book and the American Library Association will do everything they can to advertise the book forever. Banned Book Week to the rescue. Displays and advertising campaigns enticing children to read these particular books.
Banned and Challenged Books is a website of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. Here, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and a roll of stickers can be purchased that say “I Read Banned Books.” You can even purchase a “Read Banned Books” coffee mug!
It’s amazing that all these banned books can be found so easily!
Read more about how Christianity is portrayed in children’s books and about book censorship in Between The Covers: What’s Inside a Children’s Book.