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Eli the Good

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Overview

The summer of 1976 should have been the best of times for nature-loving Eli Book, but instead it is filled with terrible changes. His sister begins to hate her country. His beautiful but distant mother is caught between his traumatized Vietnam War vet father and his former antiwar protester aunt, who has come to live with them. And the only person with whom he can be himself, his best friend, Edie, begins to turn inward when her parents split up. Watching from the sidelines while his world falls apart, Eli must ...

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Eli the Good

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Overview

The summer of 1976 should have been the best of times for nature-loving Eli Book, but instead it is filled with terrible changes. His sister begins to hate her country. His beautiful but distant mother is caught between his traumatized Vietnam War vet father and his former antiwar protester aunt, who has come to live with them. And the only person with whom he can be himself, his best friend, Edie, begins to turn inward when her parents split up. Watching from the sidelines while his world falls apart, Eli must take his first courageous steps toward truth-telling and adulthood.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his YA debut, adult author House tells the story of a smalltown family reeling from the Vietnam War. The narrator, Eli Book, describes the summer of 1976, when he was 10 years old, with the hindsight and perspective that adulthood brings (“It's important that you know this: my mother was beautiful.... She must have driven the boys at the high school absolutely crazy”). Eli lives with his father (a traumatized Vietnam vet); his loving but distant mother; a rebellious teenage sister; and his outspoken antiwar activist aunt. The candid conversations between Eli and his best friend, Edie, underscore the turmoil in both of their households. House laces the book with references to Bob Seger and Happy Days, but keeps the focus on the family's crackling dynamics and Eli's struggle to make sense of them. There's subtle poetry at work in House's writing, and as the tension and summer months heat up (“The sun broiled on the sky, a living thing that pulsated and grew larger”), Eli comes to understand how love and forgiveness can overcome even the most deep-seated conflicts. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Myrna Dee Marler
It is 1976, the summer of the bicentennial, and ten-year-old Eli is having a tumultuous summer. His father suffers from PTSD after the Vietnam War and occasionally tries to choke his mother to death in his sleep; his aunt, a free-spirited war protestor and constantly at odds with her brother, arrives looking for a safe haven while she deals with breast cancer; Eli's seventeen-year-old sister has just discovered that her mother was "knocked up" by someone else before she married the man she has thought was her father; and, Edie, the next door neighbor and Eli's best friend, has emotionally abusive parents in the process of getting a divorce. Eli is a thoughtful kid and an avid reader and he spends a lot of time alone or lurking about in trees and bushes fortuitously overhearing essential private conversations. It is tempting to label him a snoop, but his aunt tells him he is one of the best people she has ever known and crowns him "Eli the Good." Eli has good tendencies, but sometimes he acts destructively, probably as a result of all the turmoil around him. He is a bit young for this to be a coming of age story, but he certainly loses a lot of his innocence during the course of the summer. The voice is that of a grown up Eli looking back on that crucial summer. The text is lovely, filled with descriptions of nature, and summer, and 1970s memories. This novel is both a thought-provoking read and a nostalgic look back at recent history. Reviewer: Myrna Dee Marler
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Southern writer Silas House brings the bicentennial summer to life in his elegantly crafted novel (Candlewick, 2009). Ten-year-old Eli Book has always been secure with his loving family, but during the searing summer of 1976, all that the boy holds dear begins to fall apart. His 16-year-old sister is beginning to rebel and arguments with their mother ricochet through the house. Eli's Aunt Nell has cancer and has come to stay with them. Worst of all, Stanton, Eli's strong and steady father who fought in Vietnam, is suffering the delayed trauma of war that puts the entire family at risk. Eli finds many answers in the letters his parents wrote while his father was in Vietnam, and by summer's end comes to a greater understanding of his complex family. House narrates, and his gentle Southern drawl and perfect pacing elevate a beautifully written novel to an extraordinary audiobook. This story is so well told that it could hold its own against that other great Southern novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Young listeners will enjoy Eli's storytelling ability, while older ones will appreciate the story's deeper complexities. An essential purchase.—Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
Kirkus Reviews
The summer of 1976 was when ten-year-old Eli Book first knew his father, when he "first saw the war inching its way beneath his skin, behind his eyes." It was a summer destined for conflict, with his father home from Vietnam and suffering terrible nightmares that wrench him from his sleep and Eli's Aunt Nell, a famous antiwar protestor, come to live with the family. It was a summer when family secrets rose to the surface and Eli began to see the world in a new light. As in any good Southern novel, it's the well-drawn characters and rich setting-including the popular culture of the time (Laverne and Shirley, The Waltons, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin)-that make this a memorable story. Though the prose is overwrought at times and House takes liberties with the conventions of point of view, it's an important story about war's hold on soldiers and their families. Readers will want to keep an eye out for future works by this talented writer. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455801138
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Silas House is the nationally best-selling author of the award-winning novels CLAY'S QUILT, A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES, and THE COAL TATTOO. He teaches at Berea College and is the father of two daughters.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Eli the Good is better than good...

    Eli and I were 10 in 1976. Silas House's novel took me back to the bicentennial, hometown parades, and the fear and loathing of Vietnam Vets that plagued our nation. House's writing is so personal and descriptive you feel like you are part of the memory. His references to television shows and pop music were lend historical perspective to the work.

    From House's description of his father's service station, I could almost smell the Texaco station my uncles owned during my childhood.

    My 11-year old daughter is reading the book now. I think it will give her insight into her parents' childhoods.

    It is difficult to believe the same man penned Eli the Good and A Parchment of Leaves; though, I loved them both.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2014

    Joy

    Smiles

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2014

    Madi

    Walks in

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2014

    Tess

    Walks in and sits down alone thinking

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Pat to mistress

    ok

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014

    Lilas room

    :-)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Jen

    Whats a body shot?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Jon

    ?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2014

    Jade

    I grin and laugh. You wanna see it thst bad?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2014

    Kristen

    She grinned. "Sure!"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2014

    Skylar

    Skylar hesitated, than obidiently moved orward and kissed Mistress.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2014

    Daysee

    Looks a james blushing slightly

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2014

    Kevin to all

    "Body shots anyone?" I ask glancing at Kristen

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2014

    Genesis

    Like yesterday when you wantedr to take control. Going to bed night

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    Opal

    "Tess. I've tried everything to stop you. All's that's left to do is to join you. So see you on the other side." I grimly raise a vial filled with an enigmatic green liquid before going back to res 5.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2014

    Eva

    Gtgbbt :'(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2014

    Jaima

    She stands on her tippytoes to kiss you on the lips.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2014

    Tess

    Night

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Love this author!

    Great author-this book takes you back to seventies childhood!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2011

    Its a book that yo really have o think about

    It took some thinking for me to determine wheather or not that this was a good book. It really was. Eli is a a mature kid, so you also hve to grow up whole reading thos. It was a real touching book about his family actually coming together instea of favoring to certain people.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews

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