Once we leave the Garden Book Review * Joretha Isby

Alexandria and Derek Svelti are a young, loving, and devoted couple. To the world, they are everyday people. They live as you and I live. They enjoy going out to dinner with friends, participating in community activities, and saving up for that dream retirement trip around the world. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with something bad to say about the Sveltis. But Alexandria and Derek are not what they appear.
They are well aware, that as long as you show the world what they want to see, they shall not judge you.

The book is a short intro into the lives of Derek and Alexandria Svelti.

Derek – child genius born in an average household, tended by a nurturing mother and a distant father, lives a secluded life, not knowing how to fit in at school and feeling that loneliness that only very gifted people get to feel.
It all ends one day when the jealous father, tired of accusing his wife of infidelity, decides to commit a gruesome act and murders his wife. Appalled by what he’s done, he shoots himself – leaving the bodies for his teen son to find. Derek – surprisingly – decides to take a nap instead of calling the police. * I think he went crazy *
His aunt and uncle take the new orphan in and his uncle shares his passion for movies with him. Derek seems to like horror movies and slowly his dark side develops, his murder dreams becoming entangled with his pubescent sex-filled self. * I definitely think we are seeing a psychopath in the making *

When I would imagine taking someone else’s life, I would get a tingling sensation all through my body.

Soon, Derek “graduates” to killing small animals like birds and squirrels and we can definitely see the disturbed young man he will turn into. He shoots a small dog but he does not feel as connected with his prey as he would have felt just by strangling the animal. *Dexter Morgan, the early years*

He starts stalking humans next, Tiffany – an easy girl from the area, easy prey. Her disappearance would be noticed but the trail would lead to a vast number of people she had been involved with. Under the guise of tutoring, Derek gets closer to her and kills her.

But Tiffany wasn’t going to show. Tiffany was gone. I wasn’t able to see her leave, but I knew she was gone.

The search for Tiffany leads the investigators to her dead body and no actual suspects. The traces of semen found in her point to an innocent 19 year old who just had the misfortune of being the last person who slept with her. Derek is free to kill some more.

The story of Alexandria is told in parallel with Derek’s, a girl brought up in a family with a doting father and a cold mother, the religious type that only knows how to nag. Soon – her parents are splitting up and her father takes up residence with the mother of one of her schoolmates. Affected by her parent’s divorce, Alexandria decides that marriage is not meant for her as it’s a prime cause for despair and heart-ache.

A man can leave you regardless of whether he marries you or not. God does not guarantee your marriage any sanctuary.

black_girl_white_boy_emo_kiss_by_ilovemyjoebear-d35x4qnShe falls in love with a local boy, Roy, and she is faced with fears of her mother finding out about her relationship – fears which come true once her dad spots her hugging her beau in public and then tells her mother. Her teen indignation is visible when she considers the secrecy her father kept of his affair and the secrecy her father kept about hers.
Her mother, true to her church-going style – starts prying, asking to see if they had met that day, if she was involved with that boy, if she has been sneaking to see him and warns her about the damnation that follows fornication. * Strict parents always lead to rebellious teens *.
As her mother got more destructive with her actions, her true love Roy shows his true colors and steps off the bandwagon, leaving Alexandria alone to face the music.

When she confronts Roy, the talk leads to an assault and Roy is left bleeding and Alexandria is taken away for a psychological evaluation to determine her sanity. During her talks with the psychologist, Alexandria learns to embrace her inner demons and becomes a man-hater… * I think this view is a bit distorted for someone who went through a bad breakup*

Men couldn’t be trusted. They were somehow, all damaged. I don’t know how they became so damaged, but they were.
I honestly think they were mentally damaged by some since of entitlement. It’s not to say, that because you date or marry someone that you have to stay with them forever. I think marriage is an unrealistic idea. I take that back, maybe marriage is a realistic idea. Because that is something two people are agreeing on. They are choosing to face life and all it’s obstacles together. I think it’s monogamy that is unrealistic. I think trying to predict or plan how you will feel about someone in the future, is unrealistic. People change. Their likes and dislikes change, their emotions change, their behavior changes, their attractions change. And even if two people are on the same page, when they first meet, whose to say they will still be on the same page ten years later.

The Union of Souls
bampw-black-and-white-boy-boyfriend-Favim.com-2410679Derek meets Alexandria in college, when they are both studying psychology and it was a match made in heaven (*or hell*). She was exactly what he needed. Dark, “villainous”, with an emptiness inside that he could not wait to fill. And very beautiful.


My heart, my mind, my body, they had never experienced anything like that before. Love. I finally felt love. I was in love with Alexandria.

*I can’t wait to see where this story goes now!*

Bad Parts: As a reader, I feel like the scenes were moving to fast (which is understandable as this is only a preview of a book/script/movie) but I would have loved a bit more character development, scene setting, dialogue. There is sometimes detail given on minor characters that do not affect the general direction of the story nor are they repeated anywhere else – Like adding a bit of fluff to the story.

Good Parts: The story telling reminded me a little of the shorthand used in Emergence by David Palmer and also a little of Frankie and Stankie. The narrative jumps between the two protagonists and their POV is quite well made and the pacing is good.

Good parts: I can see the potential of this book/story to develop into a serial killer frenzy. There are loads of passionate couples who have murdered together and their co-dependence and love can make this couple very successful.
I also liked the feminist approach of why marriages are bad for you and the description of the sadistic desire to kill and hunt – both described as primal needs.

About the Author

Joretha Isby is the author of the eBook, Once We Leave the Garden: Inside the Minds of the Banished.  She has just completed her first screenplay, Once We Leave the Garden, which details the present lives of Alexandria and Derek Svelti. She will also be directing the film.
She decided to write this eBook, because as she was writing the screenplay, the backstory of the main characters subconsciously developed in her mind. She felt that for every detail she wrote about them, in the script, an understanding of what actually drove the character to that point, developed.
She felt it was necessary to share what she learned about the characters with the future viewers of the film. She will be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon that will offer backers rewards such as posters, dvds, autographed props from the film, production stills, and an autographed script, among other items. You can follow her on twitter, Rita (@JorethaIsby) | Twitter or like the Facebook fan page, Once We Leave The Garden for updates, behind the scene footage, and the website launch. To get your free copy of the eBook, go to Once We Leave the Garden and sign up for your free download.

In her free time, Joretha enjoys exercising, writing, and spending time with her daughter, Elizabeth. 

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