Title: Bells for Eli
Author: Susan Beckham Zurenda
Release Date: March 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Mercer University Press
First cousins Ellison Winfield and Adeline Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s. But Eli’s tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately defends him. Delia’s narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence, but underneath he hides indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia and attempts to protect her from her own troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. In this compelling coming of age story, culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.
Bells for Eli is a captivating coming of age novel that tackles subjects like bullying, forbidden romance, love, and acceptance. This is Susan’s debut novel and it reminds me of V.C. Andrews writing style. The story is fascinating in its light and darkness.
The bond of two cousins, Delia and Eli, is at the center of the story. They grow up living right across with each other and we get to see a special bond blossom. The story deals with some real family and self-esteem issues. I think the way the author introduced each topic is done in a classy way that doesn’t diminish the severity of each situation.
As Delia and Eli grow up their friendship turns into love. Now, this is where the forbidden romance comes to play. They are in love with each other but don’t act on it for obvious reasons…although it does take a toll on them. As they begin to go off in the world and try to add some distance between each other, they seem to always find their way back.
A tragic accident changed Eli when he was younger and another tragic accident, later on, hurts Delia. To say these two have been through rough times would be an understatement. The real beauty is in the love and respect they share for one another. And the author makes it known that love is a powerful blessing.
I give Bells for Eli 4 stars. It is genuine and authentic to each character. I can’t believe it is the author’s debut novel because her writing style is impressive.