Eli is a grown man’s recollection of what it was like to be the ten-year-old son of an emotionally distant mother and a father suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Woven into this family are Eli’s equally troubled aunt, sister, and best friend. His aunt, who became famous protesting the Vietnam War, has come home to live with her brother’s family while she fights breast cancer. His sister is dealing with the new and painful knowledge that the dad she has always known is not her biological father.
His best friend is Edie, the little girl next door whose parents have just divorced. Throughout the book, Eli watches his family struggle. The lasting effects of the Vietnam War are felt by every member. Each of them must work to overcome their differences and to forgive their often bitter disagreements. Though almost always an observer, Eli also struggles. While everyone around him is working through their own problems, he is left feeling unloved.
He tries very hard to understand his family members, even when their pain is far more than a ten year-old boy can handle. The stress this creates causes him to lash out at Edie when she needs his friendship the most. Ultimately, Eli must learn to accept even those behaviors which he cannot comprehend, forgive himself and those around him for their human weaknesses, and accept and share in the love each family member offers him. lessons of friendship, hope and love are timeless.
Moreover, these lessons are keenly relevant to today’s young adults who are struggling to learn these things in a world and in families that continue to be affected by war and its consequences. (September) “This book is about the power of friendship and the joy of accepting yourself as you are. It’s also about how people can get through struggles if they have hope and the love of others, and most important, it’s about the fact that we don’t always have to agree with the ones we love.