Bells for Eli
By Susan Zurenda
Mercer Press, $25
Release Date: March 2, 2020
If you’re looking for titles to add to your spring reading list, Bells for Eli, the debut novel by Susan Zurenda, should definitely be at the top.
Set in the small town of Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and ’70s, the story focuses on first cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green. The two are deeply bound not just by blood, but by an accident that changes life as they know it.
When Eli is left disfigured, Delia becomes his passionate defender as he navigates a life of being bullied and struggling to be accepted by his peers. As time passes and Eli’s outward appearance shows no visible signs of damage, the mental scars and pain continue to govern the way he views the world.
Told in Delia’s engaging and sensitive narrative voice, which quickly absorbs the reader, the novel explores overcoming adversity, family secrets and tragedy. It also asks what it means to really live your life, free from judgment, physical limitations or societal pressures.
You can catch Susan Zurenda on the Grand Strand on February 28 at Kimbel’s at Wachesaw as part of The Moveable Feast literary luncheon series. Visit classatpawleys.com for more info.
The Last Sunday Drive: Vanishing Traditions in Georgia and the Carolinas
By Tom Poland
Arcadia Publishing, $24.99
Release Date: November 18, 2019
Today’s culture has slowly morphed into one of instant gratification, digital communication and scheduling every minute of every day to maximize productiveness. In The Last Sunday Drive, Tom Poland invites readers to return to an older time—a time when Sunday’s biggest plans were hopping into the car to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life.
Poland opens the book by remembering his perfect 1950s Sunday, when his family would pile in to his father’s ’56 Plymouth and set off with no particular place to go. He grieves the loss of things he saw along these roads that seem to have fallen into inexistence, from junkyards and smokehouses to mom-and-pop drive-ins and “See Rock City” advertisements on barn roofs.
In addition to sights along the country roads, Poland reminisces on home remedies, the many uses for an old glass Coke bottle, homemade toys and the screen-wire fly swatter, which has been usurped by its inferior plastic counterpart.
Head deep into the countryside of the Carolinas and Georgia, long before billboards and fast food restaurants were on every corner. Poland explores the special places and moments that were treasured in less complicated times. Part historic guide and part nostalgic lament, this one is for both those who miss times long-gone and those interested in learning about the past. Poland will be The Moveable Feast guest on February 14 at Pawleys Plantation.
Photographs courtesy of the publishers