Fighting for Eden

Genre: General Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

For Fans Of

Jojo Moyes, Liora Barash, Matthew Mather and Garth Stein

Book Summary

What would you give up to make your dream come true?

From the wind-swept horse country of the Yakima Valley to the airy academic halls of the University of Washington, three adventurers pursue their own Edens. One wants to be a hero, the second just wants to save her home, the third to make sense of it all.

Jake’s tragic death in the opening days of the Iraq War leaves his sister and best friend reeling.

Jessie finds herself all alone in the fight to save their family cattle ranch, even as the patriarchy of the Valley seeks to crush her.

Andrew’s questing mind is driven to the brink as he seeks to balance his pacifict convictions with his friend’s sacrifice.

Drawn together, this unlikely pair struggles to find meaning in their loss while they fight for their dreams.


"Fighting for Eden is a good book. It's social commentary, well balanced. The vehicle is cattle ranching in conservative eastern Washington, mixed up with liberal sensibilities from the university, and patriotic sacrifice during the Iraq War. Connecting these worlds is Jake, a rancher's son, who moves with unusual ease and confidence between them. Jake is a tragic character who symbolizes something greater than just one man. Author Stilwell, in his own life, transcends the liberal/conservative axis, having spent enough time in both kinds of places to know that neither side wins all of the arguments. He respectfully explores values around war and patriotism, rural and cosmopolitan lifestyles, comparative religion, and what's worth fighting for. We also get a dose of the perennial battle between rednecks and sensitive men. He pulls it off in a lively 249 pages with good character development, nice train-of-thought elements, strong women to cheer for, a little sex, and a healthy helping of politics. Instead of hammering his own values, Stilwell raises the questions and defers to the reader to make his own conclusions."

"During the summer of 2010, I read Jeff Stilwell's first novel Fighting For Eden. I liked it well enough to put it on my bookshelf. Recently I pulled it off the shelf and read it again. I like the book as well as I did the first time I read it.
I liked the two main characters, Andrew and Jessie, enough to want to invest my time. They are both fascinating and irritating. Andrew escapes the Midwest and his father and comes to Seattle to pursue his studies of Religion like his father. Unlike his father, an anti-war protestor during the Vietnam Conflict, he struggles to find his voice. Jessie searches for a way to save her father's cattle ranch in the Yakima Valley. Both characters are drawn together because of their love for Jessie's brother Jake, whose one desire is to be a soldier and who ends up in the Iraq War. Coming from two different worlds, Andrew and Jessie find it hard to communicate with one another.
Andrew's openness to the small Yakima Valley community allowed me to gain an insight into my state divided so politically by the Cascade Mountains. I liked the author's explorations into different religious points of view. Having lived in Taiwan, I was familiar with the references to Taoism and Buddhism. Andrew's exposure to the communities conservative Christian leanings was as a knowledgeable observer. His insights into that world gave me unbiased view and something to think about.
Fighting for Eden is a book that was as enjoyable and thought provoking the second time around as the first. I look forward to reading Jeff's next novel."

"Fighting for Eden is a great read. Mr. Stilwell pulls together an in depth look at eh angst of ranchers in this brave new world of what is healthy to eat, the conundrum of why we are in Afghanistan 10 years later, what is patriotism, the profits that can be garnered from the tragedies with this difficult situation, and the coming of age of two young people.
He does this in the bucolic setting of central Washington and the bustling metropolis of Seattle, tosses in a little fundamentalism & some Taoism and gives you a very enjoyable & thought provoking story all in 250 pages. I had a hard time putting it down to get some sleep."

About the Author

Jeff Stilwell excels at the unexpected.

Not content with his midwestern roots, he found ways on the cheap to explore the wider world including selling gummy bears in high school to visit the Alps of southern Germany. To pay for college, he worked a slime line as a head chopper in the clammy tundra of Alaska.

His thirst for adventure next took him to Asia where he studied the martial arts and Asian philosophy while exploring exotic locales such as the Himalayas and the lands of Lord Jim, even surviving a squall in the Gulf of Siam.

Attracted to strong women lifelong, he met and wooed his wife, jewelry designer Manya Vee there, winning her heart by following her to Java. Upon returning to the States, they founded an art gallery just north of Seattle. She taught him to gallop bareback at the family farm in the storied Yakima Valley, the inspiration for his first novel Fighting for Eden.

His flair for the dramatic led him to write and stage fifteen plays in and around the Seattle theatre scene. His works earned numerous laurels such as "an intense dramatic comedy you don't want to uninterrupted 90-minute power pack with something to say," for his One Tile Short and "a trip and a half in a little more than a hour and a half through an Alice-like wonderland and a half; ground-breaking in ways more than one," for his Teacup Tipsy. (The Enterprise Newspapers, Dale Burrows)

Too restless, however, to merely sit behind a computer, he recently completed a solitary 750 mile hike from Stevens Pass in Western Washington to end, a Biblical sounding forty days later, at Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Once upon a time, he even ran for Congress. If it's big, Stilwell has dreamt it, attempted it, or achieved it.

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