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Eli the Good

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,336 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
Bicentennial fireworks burn the sky. Bob Seger growls from a transistor radio. And down by the river, girls line up on lawn chairs in pursuit of the perfect tan. Yet for ten-year-old Eli Book, the summer of 1976 will go down as the one that threatened to tear his family apart. There is his beautiful and distant mother; his traumatized Vietnam vet dad; his wild and confused ...more
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Published March 16th 2010 by Candlewick Press (MA) (first published September 8th 2009)
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Eli the Good details the story of Eli, a ten-year-old boy living in the summer of 1976. He is observant, curious, and often times ponders his surroundings regardless of his young age. He notices that his family appears to be torn asunder by the consequences of the Vietnam war - his dad suffers from terrifying dreams and hallucinations, his sister discovers an unsettling fact about herself, and his estranged aunt suddenly returns to live with them. The story shows Eli overcome the obstacles he fa ...more
Oct 10, 2016 Cassandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had all the feels! It was about real life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was about family, blood and people brought together by the fates who become like family. It was magical, sweet, and sad. It walks you through brokenness, darkness, acceptance, love and healing. It was a beautiful read and I can't wait to meet Silas House in a few weeks and thank him for sharing his gift of Eli the Good with all of us.
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Somewhere around 4/5 stars (I'll explain)

I feel a little guilty for the way I treated this book. I've wanted to read it for ages. But I keep putting it off, all while hearing great things from people about it. Then I read it when I'm really in the mood to read something else, distracted and stressed from work. I'm sorry Eli the Good. I did not give you the attention you deserved. It took me about halfway through before I pushed through my distractions and really into the story. But I honestly do
Jul 09, 2014 Laurel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This book encompasses everything about small-town Kentucky life in the 1970s, specifically during the summer of the bicentennial, 1976. The details that the author includes - smells, textures, sounds, even the brand names that were a part of daily life - took me back to my childhood! (I was not very old in 1976, and I don't actually remember the celebrations!)
This book made me wonder, more than any other book I've ever read, how different my life would have been if my parents had lived to raise
Hannah Young
Nov 12, 2012 Hannah Young rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
10-year-old Eli, who lives out in the country is finding out that his family has secrets. His dad is mentally sick from being in the Vietnam War, his Aunt Nell is an anti-war protester and makes it on the news for all to see, his older sister Josie is rebelling against his mother, and his parent’s marriage is falling apart. The author does a great job of making the audience feel what Eli is feeling. I recommend this book to young adults of the high school age. I thought it was a good book but it ...more
Emily  (SimplyEmily'sMind)
“Since that night I have come to understand that sometimes the best families of all are those we create ourselves, the people we choose to be with.”

This tale is one of family, love, and war. Ten year-old Eli spends his summer learning what it means to have a father who fought in the Vietnam war. He learns that not everyone supported the war, and this very thing seems to threaten to tear his family apart. This coming of age novel perfectly captures the American South in the 70's, while also show
Jul 07, 2009 Kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Generally, it seems pretty easy to determine if a book fits into the YA genre, but Silas House's new novel, Eli the Good, threw me for a loop. His writing is carefully crafted to set the tone of any given scene, and the main character, Eli, seems to think in prose. I had no idea that this novel was, in fact, House's YA debut until I did a bit of research about the author.

The year is 1976, and Eli Book is ten years old. With the book told entirely from his perspective, the reader learns first han
La Coccinelle
Jul 29, 2016 La Coccinelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This isn't the type of book I usually read. I do like some historical fiction, but the setting of this one is fairly recent. To be honest, I almost gave up after 75 pages or so. I'm used to books having more plot, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. But I found that I didn't really want to give up on this one, since I'd been drawn in by the characters. I think that's actually the point here; Eli the Good has some nice themes, and the excellent characterization held my interest and conveyed t ...more
Rebecca Brothers
The summer that I was ten--
Can it be there was only one
summer that I was ten? It must
have been a long long one then--

---May Swenson "The Centaur" (as qtd. in House's Eli The Good)

I loved this quotation from the get-go and have since re-read Swenson's poems with a new eye because of this book. Silas House gained famed through his book Clay's Quilt, a book I need to by God go back and read. But this book captured me on a deep level I'm still picking my way through.

Our (anti) hero Eli is 10 as
Apr 27, 2016 Sheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: six-stars, re-reading
I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author, with his soft, slow Appalachian drawl. The book is flawless, it is descriptive without being effusive, and carries the reader along it's narrative stream like a floating leaf on a lazy summer afternoon.

The protagonist, ten year old Eli Book, has an old soul. He observes his family, friends, and nature with full awareness, and has understanding beyond his years. The story takes place during the summer of the bicentennial, when Eli's Aunt Nell c
Joni Allison
Jun 01, 2012 Joni Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
Places exist in this world that hold a sense of power and wonder over the people who love them. The town of Refuge, the setting of The Book of Eli by Silas House, is such a place. In the summer of 1976, Eli Book ages well beyond his actual time on earth. He may be 10 years old, but by the end of the summer, he is an old ten-year old. Eli spends his summer struggling with a father who suffers from the aftershocks of fighting in Vietnam, a 16-year-old sister who is rebelling, and a best friend who ...more
Sep 21, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ELI THE GOOD is one of those stories where setting -- place and especially time -- takes center stage. The year is 1976 -- a year I remember for our town's bicentennial parade and because I spent most of it angry that I wasn't allowed to ride my bike to the park alone. Eli remembers it as the year things fell apart in his family -- with a wild-spirited aunt who shows up with a secret, a mouthy, strong-willed sister who comes to blows with their mother, and a father who is trapped in his memories ...more
Eli, a country boy in Kentucky, turns 10 over the summer of 1976, the summer of America’s bicentennial celebrations. Eli spends time riding bikes with his best friend Edie, reading The Diary of Ann Frank and writing in his journal. His aunt Nell (a war protester during the 1960s) has come to live with them bringing her large record collection and his 16-year-old sister Josie is always mad and fighting. Eli’s father is having nightmares about Vietnam and is a quiet shadow in the family when he is ...more
Wow - this story transports you to the summer of 1976, cicadas and Bob Seger singing in the sultry Southern air, and to 10-year-old Eli's troubled but beautiful family. I was exactly 10 years old in the summer of 1976, too, so I loved reading about the Bicentennial and the 70s music and pop culture. Eli observes everything: his sister's anger, his aunt Nell's wild and wandering spirit, his father's post traumatic stress from Vietnam, and his mother's transcendent beauty. Eli tries to find his wa ...more
Jul 15, 2010 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pleasure-read
Eli the Good was recommended by my friend, Tenille. I really connected with Eli in this book mainly because I was about Eli's age in 1976...the time period when the story takes place. I had an uncle that was a POW of the Vietnam War. I do not recall how this affected his life when he returned...I know I was sheltered from this by my mother. She would have never wanted my sister and I to deal with pain and mental damage my uncle suffered.

This book reminded me of the book, Darby...both characters
A sweet nostalgic novel set in Kentucky (but pretty much could be anywhere in the Midwest/South where summers are steamy and humid).

Eli is 10 year old boy who spends a summer finding out what happened to father during the Vietnam War and how not be the best friend in the world to another kid. Characters are rich and real, I'm usually not a fan of nostalgic writing or "looking back" books...but Silas House has written this story so fine, I didn't mind the non-present day look. In fact, it was set
Jun 30, 2014 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first I've read of Silas House after hearing many of my friends and colleagues speak well of his writing. I was between 4 & 5 stars so I left it at 4 because the conflict in the book was not deeply drawn out because I believe I've also heard this book was intended for a YA audience. I realized as I was listening to it that I was also ten years old in 1976 so everything hit me right where I lived as well. The music, the memories, and I grew up in "the country." I didn't have a fa ...more
Linda Parks
Oct 18, 2009 Linda Parks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knowing this book was a YA title, I was comletely taken by surprise by how much I enjoyed it. Silas House has written this story in such a way that anyone - young and old alike - will become absorbed and fall in love with all the characters. With his usual southern charm, he puts you there beside Eli and lets you live his life with him, gently and lovingly carrying you through an innocent yet somewhat troubled summer ~ weaving in family issues we most likely can all relate to. I found it to be a ...more
melanie (lit*chick)
Finally read it after Jill recommended. What was I waiting for? I loved it - absolutely gorgeous coming of age story. I bought it on Kindle, but feel like I might need a paper copy so I can underline, with a real pencil not just a cursor, some luscious prose. When you read something this lovely it makes it harder to slog through the regular stuff.
Jun 16, 2012 Juliann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Very poignant read on quite an intense and controversial topic: Vietnam. It's interesting to see this topic explored by a child who is it experiencing the effects of a father affected by his time in Vietnam. I loved the perspective of the child and the exploration of both sides of the issue.
Teresa Bunner
Oct 10, 2010 Teresa Bunner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautifully written book. Eli is so real. I wanted to reach through the pages and scoop him up and hug him. It tugged at my heart, but didn't leave me feeling overwhelmed or morose. I appreciated that.
Ron Smith
Apr 06, 2012 Ron Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elmore Leonard wrote "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." Silas House never sounds like he's writing. He makes sure that he doesn't get in the way of his story. This is one of the things that made Eli the Good such a pleasure to read.
Eli struggles with his father's PTSD after returning home from Vietnam.
Aug 11, 2016 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still like this book. Thanks Silas House!
Ismael Hernandez
This is a story about a boy named Eli Books.He is the son of a beautiful mother and a Vietnam vet.And has a sister that loves him very much but has something against his mother.He lives in constant fear around his father since his dad is traumatized from the war and sometimes does not have control over what he does.But he has a friend that he always has for support even though he does not want his other friends to know.It is his neighbor and childhood friend named Edie. And as he is growing he ...more
Thomas Holbrook
Sep 19, 2011 Thomas Holbrook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There is a moment when a child steps from a world of order, trust and ignorant bliss into an awareness that life is messy, confusing and occasionally chaotic. This awakening causes the world to tilt a bit, causing unsteadiness and a sense of fright at the sudden vertigo brought on by the intensity of the light in this new vantage point. For Eli Book, this moment occurred in 1976, the summer the nation turned 200 and Eli was 10.
Eli narrates this tale of family growing up in an era of transition.
The Reading Countess
Silas House is now one of only a select few authors whom I want to read ALL of his books. After finishing his first foray into YA lit, I am sold. A fellow Southerner, House captures perfectly what it is to grow up in the South in the 70's as a child of a Vietnam vet. I should know, I was a child just like his main character, Eli.

Eli is a bright, observant, and sensitive boy surrounded by women the summer of 1976. His older sister (six years his senior) is close to him, but Josie's sixteen years
Jennifer Burchett
Sep 15, 2015 Jennifer Burchett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appalachian
I'm a huge Silas House fan, so I had the highest expectations.

I'm immersing myself in Appalachian fiction in preparation for the Appalachian Writer's Workshop later this summer. Because this is YA, I thought I'd read it aloud to my 10yo son. In doing so, it gave us both a chance to really hear the language of these characters.

I noticed that my son was a little lost with certain references, so I found myself interjecting explanations (who was Ralph Malph, for example). This could be because of h
Sue Morris
Apr 02, 2011 Sue Morris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adults, those who were pre-teen in 1970's
Eli Book is ten years old the year the United States turned 200; Bicentennial 1976. It was a time when most people were happy and proud to be in America. Vietnam had ended just over a year before, leaving Eli’s father in the trenches. His best friend, neighbor Edie, is a girl, (please don’t tell). They do most everything together, including sharing of secret hideaways, under porches and in large bushes. Then one day, showing off in front of the guys, Eli hurts Edie and their friendship dissolves ...more
Morgan Elliott
Nov 07, 2012 Morgan Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-commercial
Eli the Good is a wonderful book told by a 13 year old boy, Eli. Eli is a boy living in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. His father is experiencing post-dramatic stress after returning from the war. His mother is a caring school teacher that loves her family and garden. Josie is Eli's teenage sister that is experiencing her own trials as a teenager. She is struggling with the realization of Stanton not being her father and relationship issues with Charles Asher. Nell is Stanton's sister who is ...more
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Silas House is an American writer best known for his novels. He is also a music journalist, environmental activist, and columnist. He lives in Eastern Kentucky, where he was born and raised.

House's fiction is known for its attention to the natural world, working class characters, and the plight of the rural place and rural people. He is also a music journalist, environmental activist and columnist
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“Sometimes just being still is the best thing you can do for yourself.” 27 likes
“I've never understood why people run to get out of the rain in the summertime... People will drive miles and miles to go jump in a cool swimming hole, but when it rains, they scatter.” 27 likes
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