C A N D L E W I C K P R E S S D I S C U S S I O N G U I D E
BY SILAS HOUSE
It’s the summer o 1976, and America is celebratingits two hundredth birthday with a bang. Butfreworks are nothing new at Eli’s house. Hisbeautiul mother and headstrong sister are fghtingpitched battles, his ather is wrestling with demonsrom the Vietnam War, and his rambling aunt hasfnally come home, looking or a place to ade away.In this tender and timeless novel by an acclaimedauthor, an unorgettable ten-year-old peels backhis amily’s secrets as he takes his frst steps towardmanhood.
HC: 978-0-7636-4341-6PB: 978-0-7636-5288-3E-book: 978-0-7636-5173-2
D I S C U S S I O N Q U E S T I O N S
There are two Elis in this story: a ten-year-oldin 1976 and a grown-up narrator recalling thatpivotal summer. Why do you think the authorstructured his novel this way? Beyond their ages,how does each Eli dier rom the other?“The trees,” says Eli’s riend Edie, “they talk toyou i you listen hard enough” (page 11). Whatdoes Eli learn about himsel rom the trees?What does he learn about his ather?Reread the descriptions o the seven photographsthat Eli’s ather sends home rom Vietnam.What does each photo reveal about this man’scharacter and about his experiences in the war?Why are Josie’s ag pants so important to her?Why does her mother loathe them?What makes Eli and Edie kindred spirits? Whywon’t he admit that she’s his best riend? Howdoes he betray her on the Fourth o July? Howdoes she respond?Eli’s mother was never a soldier, but her sonbelieves that “she lived with Vietnam stampedacross her ace as much as our ather did” (page23). What does he mean by that?At the beginning o the summer, thinking abouthimsel and other children o Vietnam veterans,Eli muses, “We’re always caught betweendeending our athers and not understandingthem” (page 62). Does he eel the same way atthe end o the summer? What changes or him?
Eli the Good