>> Thursday, September 16, 2010
Book Blogger Appreciation Week has been busy. It may take me weeks to get caught up with the book blogs in my Google reader, but it’s fun. This year’s theme of “A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs” is great.
Today’s topic is Forgotten Treasure, and is one I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw the daily topics. I get to talk about a book that I wish would get more attention from book bloggers or may have been under marketed.
This was an easy choice for me. When I read Eli the Good by Silas House last year I wanted to convince as many other book bloggers as I could to read it. I also mentioned it often as one of my favorite books of the year. Nearly a year later the characters and the story are still with me.
Rather than a link I’m just going to repost my comments about Eli the Good from when I read it last December.
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.
I had really hoped to see more reviews of Eli the Good from other bloggers but perhaps it got lost in the end of the year rush. Although it’s listed as a Young Adult book I strongly feel that it is a book for adults as well. I think in particular folks like me, who were teenagers in the 70’s will find much in this book that brings back memories.
I know that the War through the Generations reading challenge is focusing on the Vietnam War this year and Eli the Good is an excellent choice if you are participating in that challenge. The war, the protests and the aftermath for families is beautifully expressed in this book. But it’s not just about the Vietnam War. It’s about family, love and changing times.
I read a library copy but plan to buy the paperback when it’s released so that I can read it again.
It’s a book that will touch your heart.