It is the summer of 1976 and Eli is 10-years-old. I was also 10 in 1976 and living in Kentucky. I enjoyed being reminded how summer days lasted forever, the excitement of the Bicentennial, hiding under a willow tree and how cold bottled soft drinks were out of a machine. I miss those little pieces of ice that would form inside the bottle and what a treat they were on a blistering hot afternoon.
This book brought back many reminders of that time period:
Lemon Joy dish detergent
The Bad News Bears
Window air conditioner units and only being able to run them a few hours a day.
The Outsiders(Stay Golden)
The Waltons/John Boy
Bay City Rollers
Discovering the music and lyrics that will repeat in your head for a lifetime
Reading the Diary of Anne Frank for the first time
Your favorite aunt
Each time I read a Silas House book, I think it is my favorite. This one my stay my favorite. While written as a YA novel, this is a beautiful book that I savored. Perfect for summer reading. I enjoy how House marks time and sets the mood with music. You can find his Eli the Good playlist on Spotify @silashousebooks.
I was able to join the author on a Zoom book discussion. This novel is based on his parents and his childhood.
“Later in my life I would come to understand that history books are the least reliable witnesses. When I was ten years old, though, I believed everything that was taught to me at school. America was a completely generous presence in all regards. The Indians were heathen murderers who had to be driven out so we could settle the nation in a civilized, God-blessed fashion. The Revolution was a war fought in smart blue and red uniforms wherein men with freshly powdered wigs acted as gentleman while they killed one another. The Civil War was as simple as the North fighting the South to free the slaves. America had saved all of humanity in both world wars, with little help from anyone else.”
— Eli the Good by Silas House