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East (also known as North Child in the UK and Australia) is a 2003 novel by the author Edith Pattou. It is an adaptation of an old Norwegian folk tale entitled "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" and is an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. The novel is written in a style similar to that of Brian Jacques, including the use of a change in point of view in each chapter.
When Arne married the superstitious Eugenia, he agreed to have seven children with her—one for each point of the compass, excluding north. According to the birth-direction superstition held by Eugenia's family, the direction a woman faces when giving birth will affect the child's personality; each direction foretells a different personality, and Eugenia believes north is wild and uncontrollable. Years before, Eugenia was told by a skjebne-soke (a fortune teller) that any north child she had would die crushed beneath an avalanche of ice and snow, reinforcing her desire to never have a pure northern child. Her favorite child, east-born Elise, dies young and Eugenia conceives another child to replace her, Rose. While pregnant with Rose, Eugenia is adamant that her unborn child will be an east-born, so much so that her very non-superstitious husband worries that she is tempting fate.
Rose feels out of place in her family, despite her love for them and her home; she can never live up to the standard set by her dead sister Elise, and is consumed by un-east-like wanderlust and desire for adventure. Her happy and loving childhood is failing: not only are they impoverished and her sick sister lying close to death, but her parents have concealed the truth of her birth-direction from her—the superstition that has hung over her entire life. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family, she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle hidden within a mountain, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she loses her heart to a polar bear, discovers her purpose of life, and realizes her travels have only just begun.
East has received mixed reviews. Kirkus Reviews stated "Using multiple narrators, Pattou expands the Scandinavian folktale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” to epic length—adding little to the original." and "... the pace does pick up in the second half—but only fitfully does this achieve the intensity of feeling or vividness of setting that drives the best of the recent flurry of retold romances." while Publishers Weekly saw that "Readers with a taste for fantasy and folklore will embrace Pattou's (Hero's Song) lushly rendered retelling of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." and "Handsomely evoking a landscape filled with castles, trolls, shamans and spellbound princes, the story will exercise its audience's imagination." Inis magazine was critical writing that "Pattou has replaced the conciseness of the folktale form (her novel makes use of ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’) with a detail-oriented kind of epic exoticism, and more has been lost than gained in the exchange. This novel bludgeons the folktale into an overly rationalistic, epic narrative form that relies on exoticism for its appeal and has no meaningful historical or geographical accuracy. The novel is targeted at girls aged 12+. Its lengthiness could discourage reluctant readers while its fundamental weaknesses may irritate stronger readers."
As of 2015, Pattou was currently working on West, the sequel to East, that will continue Rose and the White Bear's story, nine years after the end of East. She sent the manuscript to her agent in July 2015.
On September 2nd 2016, Pattou announced that West had sold to HMH with publication scheduled for fall 2018. The summary given in the announcement was "a fantasy/adventure in which the wandering adventurer Rose embarks on a quest to rescue her kidnapped infant and learn the fate of her true love.
- Edith Pattou - Facebook
Just sent WEST, the sequel to EAST, off to my agent! Time for a little pop-the-cork happy dance!!
- "East". www.kirkusreviews.com. Kirkus Media LLC. 15 September 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- "East". www.publishersweekly.com. PWxyz LLC. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Maguire, Nora. "North Child". Inis Magazine. Children's Books Ireland (16). Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- "FAQs". Edith Pattou. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- Edith Pattou FAQ
At long last I am working on a sequel to East ... At first I thought Rose's story with her white bear was done but late last year a "What if" question popped into my head and I was off and running! The story picks up nine years after East concludes
- Edith Pattou - Facebook
It's official! At long last, a sequel to East, called West!