Wednesday, June 05, 2013

ELDERS by Ryan McIlvain

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up a copy of ELDERS. I know very little about the Mormon faith and I assumed this novel would be a more tongue-in-cheek look at Mormons on their mission. I was so surprised to discover what a thoughtful and sensitive portrayal of young Mormon men the book provided.

Elder McLeod is nearing the end of his mission in Brazil. During his time there, he has struggled with his faith and his purpose. He isn't sure if he believes in either the faith of his fathers or in his mission. However, he is afraid of disappointing his family back home. His new partner, Elder Passos, is a Brazilian convert who looks at his mission and faith as an opportunity to change his fortunes. He takes his work very seriously and has difficulty with the flippant and sometimes irresponsible nature of his partner. When the two Elders finally find a woman willing to convert, their work with her and her husband brings up issues of their own faith and doubts and challenges their tenuous partnership.

I thought the struggles that these two young men faced were deeply moving. Framing the common struggles of many young people within a Mormon mission in a foreign land only makes it that much more powerful. The book is both sad and thoughtful. I was so surprised by how serious it was and how much it made me think about issues of faith and doubt. I really enjoyed it.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended.  This is a sad and quiet book about the struggles young people can face when their faith is challenged.

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