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Eli the Good by Silas House

>> Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eli the Good by Silas House

Genre: YA Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 295
Challenges: Support Your Local Library Challenge #50
Source: Library

I’m so very glad I paid attention when my bookseller friend mentioned that she was reading this book. It’s just wrapped itself around my heart. Eli and his family will stay with me for a while.

It’s the summer of 1976. Eli Book is ten years old and it seems that his family may be coming apart at the seams. His Vietnam vet dad is having horrible nightmares. His mom seems distant. His 16 year old sister is defying her parents. His very best friend is hurting because her parents are divorcing. His aunt who was a protester of the war her brother fought in is staying with them. Eli is an observer of people and of nature. He eavesdrops on conversations and finds himself knowing things he probably shouldn’t.

I liked Eli. I wanted to grab Eli and wrap him up in a big hug. Then I wanted to hug the rest of his family and his friend Edie too. The story is written as if the adult Eli is writing about that fateful summer. His observations are almost poetic at times, but as he’s watching his family and best friend and their conflicts there is also a deep sense of love in the way he tells the story of how he struggled to understand what was happening. There is also music. The songs that are mentioned throughout the book create a soundtrack to the story. This is the soundtrack of my life. I was a teenager in 1976 so almost all the songs are well known to me and carry their own memories and emotions as they underscore Eli’s story.

If I hadn’t known this book was shelved in the Young Adult section, I’m not sure I would have classified it as a YA novel. Perhaps that’s because I can so easily place myself in and around Eli’s story. While reading about that summer, I remembered the music, the TV shows, my friends who’s Dads or older brothers had served in Vietnam and the struggles they had as well as so many other things about that time that were there as casual parts of the story. I think many people in my generation might feel the same way about this book. I’m not so sure how it would be for someone much younger than I am.

I loved the writing. I’ve never read any of Silas House’s other books, but I will look for them now. He has a way of writing about both people and nature that paints images as well as emotions. There were far too many quotes I could have marked or written down.

This is a book I can heartily recommend.

Rating 5/5


Jen - Devourer of Books 12/03/2009 8:22 AM  

Oooh, this sounds lovely. I'll have to check this out.

Bookfool 12/03/2009 1:36 PM  

Now, I can't wait to get a copy!!!

Les 12/03/2009 2:46 PM  

You had me at "my bookseller friend mentioned." We booksellers have to stick together. ;) And, my oh my, this sounds like a gem, especially with your 5/5 endorsement. I'll be on the lookout for this and may save it for January. I'd love to start the year with a fabulous book.

Lovely review, SuziQ!

Framed 12/04/2009 9:37 AM  

Fantastic review. I'm hooked. It would be nice to read a book that takes me back to the 70's, especially one that sounds like it is so well-writeen with a compelling story.

Shellie (Layers of Thought) 12/07/2009 3:46 PM  

Susi -
This looks really good. There's a challenge starting 2010 which will be based on Vietnam... War Through the Generations I am going to join. This looks perfect for it.

Charley 12/07/2009 8:48 PM  

I just started reading this book. I hope I like it as much as you did.

SuziQoregon 12/08/2009 8:27 PM  

Jen: Oh I hope you like it. I'm anxious to hear what someone in your age range thinks of it.

Bookfool: I'm on a mission to get everyone I know to read this!

Les: Ha ha!! you and Eleanor are my best "bookseller friend" sources of recommendations.

Framed: It really did bring back a lot of memoried for me. For me it was definitely well written and compelling.

Shellie: this would be perfect for that challenge.

Charley: Oh I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

Anonymous,  1/08/2010 9:26 AM  

This guy, House, is an amazing writer. You should check out his website and read his other books as well as his blog.

Ms. Yingling 4/19/2010 2:34 AM  

This is a great book, but I'm with you that it is more interesting to adults.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

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