Eli the Good

Written by Silas House
Review by Viviane Crystal

Eli Book is living through the post-Vietnam War frenzy of 1976. His father fought nobly for his country, only to return and be spit on by those who opposed the war and hadn’t learned to separate hatred of war from honoring those who served honorably. His father and Eli’s Aunt Nell have been at loggerheads ever since, especially since she took part in an anti-war protest in New York City, leaving behind a photo that became symbolic of the entire peace movement shattering American tranquility. Eli’s best friend is the victim of a domestic war that leaves her devastated and almost inconsolable after Eli’s thoughtless betrayal of their bond. Josie learns of a secret that elicits the rage pervading that generation and threatening to destroy them all.

It seems like a totally bleak picture, yet Silas House manages to infuse this tragic, historical period with a magical, Faulkner-like experience of Southern beauty. Nature is experienced as so much more than a pleasant friend; the notable Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, and other vivacious singers compel the country to sing and believe in something noble and higher. Eli’s parents, Loretta and Stanton Book, model the precious and fragile love that binds, forgives and enables one to forge into a hopeful future. Silas House writes beautifully and makes the reader want to enter the celebrations, happening side by side with a country reeling from the causes and effects of its recent history, in true bicentennial style!