Reviews for After Eli
Booklist Reviews 2012 September #2
*Starred Review* Three years after his much older brother, Eli, died as a soldier in Iraq, 14-year-old Daniel is still trying to cope with the loss while living in a household that has never healed. Throughout Daniel's childhood, Eli had set out to teach him all that he needed to know but would never learn from their distant, demanding father. Now, over a summer marked by change, Daniel falls for sophisticated Isabelle, befriends a geeky classmate, outgrows a longtime pal, and works on a farm owned by his brother's best friend. At summer's end, Daniel's realization that he is losing Isabelle opens the floodgates of grief and triggers a violent reaction that allows his family to move forward at last. Depicted only through flashbacks, memories, and conversations, irreverent Eli is one of the most vividly realized characters in this convincing cast. Each chapter heading features someone from Daniel's personal Book of the Dead (Archimedes, Isadora Duncan, the Titanic victims) who come up in his writings, a thread of death that some might find off-putting. But the tone of this first-person narrative isn't maudlin or morbid, it's smart and searching, and the well-structured story quietly builds to a moving climax and a worthy, satisfying conclusion. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Danny is eleven when his older brother Eli, both a best friend and mentor, is killed in Iraq. Now it's the summer after freshman year, and Danny falls in love, makes new friendships, finds himself, and begins to accept Eli's death. There's wisdom aplenty imparted here, but there's humor, too, in this profound yet unpretentious story with a resilient, relatable protagonist.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
Narrator Danny is eight when the Twin Towers fall on 9/11 and eleven when his older brother Eli is killed in Iraq. The first event is traumatic; the second absolutely devastating, since Eli functioned both as best friend and mentor to Danny. With his parents emotionally in absentia, Eli's death leaves a vacuum Danny can't fill on his own. Now it's the summer after freshman year in high school, a pivotal time in which Danny will fall hopelessly in love (with sophisticated city girl Isabelle who's visiting small-town Vermont just for the summer); shed old friendships and make new ones that fit him better; chance upon a potential vocation; and people his life with substitute mentors. In other words, he finds himself and finally begins to accept Eli's death. There's wisdom aplenty imparted here, from the inevitability of change to the impermanence of life to the mysteries of human motivation. But there's much humor, too, especially in the refreshing directness of Eli's brotherly advice (Eli: "When is it OK to use [the word] suck?" Danny: "Vampires, vacuum cleaners, and anything to do with Timmy Sperdle") and in the freewheeling interactions between eccentric twins Jasper and Journey, Isabelle's younger siblings. With its deliberate pace, adult perspective, and extensive philosophical conversations, After Eli may not reach a wide audience, but those who connect will find a profound yet unpretentious story and a resilient, relatable protagonist. martha v. parravano Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 July #2
Daniel (E.) Anderson looks back on the summer he fell in love and finally came to terms with his soldier brother's death. After Eli died in Iraq, Daniel added his initial to his own name and began compiling a Book of the Dead, a binder filled with his research on famous deaths. Three years later, still angry at his brother for joining the Army, the 14-year-old still keeps his book. Relevant entries, ranging from the princes in the Tower to Isadora Duncan and the 9/11 victims, begin each chapter of this poignant novel. Danny's father is detached and displeased by everything; his mother, silent and withdrawn. But in the course of an idyllic summer spent with the beautiful Isabelle and her younger twin siblings, visiting from New York, Danny comes to terms with his brother's death, finds a new, true friend in his dorky, formerly despised classmate Walter, and discovers that working on an organic farm is something he's good at and cares about. Danny's nostalgic first-person narration includes interestingly quirky information as well as sweet moments. Middle school readers will see the inevitable end of this first love long before Danny faces it, grieving his new loss but grateful for his healing. Far more than a summer romance, this is a tribute to those left behind. (Fiction. 11-15) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 June #4
Daniel, a wry and thoughtful narrator, looks back on the summer when he was 14, three years after his older brother, Eli, died in Iraq at age 22. Rupp (Octavia Boone's Big Questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything) skillfully weaves Daniel's memories of larger-than-life Eli and his lingering anger about his death with Daniel's day-to-day challenges, including his dysfunctional family (Daniel repeatedly clashes with his father, and his mother is all but catatonic, continuing to mourn Eli); his frustrations with his popular but conventional friends; his attraction to Isabelle, a gorgeous and free-spirited newcomer to town; and his nascent friendship with school outcast Walter. Throughout, Daniel adds to his "Book of the Dead," in which he documents famous and infamous deaths that seem tragic, senseless, or cruel. The pain running through the narrative is tempered with hope, humor, and resilience, offering insight into the anguish of those left behind. A rich cast of secondary characters (Isabelle's bickering twin siblings are scene-stealers) is a powerful source of support for Daniel in a story that's as much about self-knowledge as acceptance. Ages 9-12. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September
Gr 7 Up--Though it's been three years since his older brother was killed during the Iraq War, 14-year-old Danny Anderson is still coming to terms with this senseless tragedy. His parents can't offer solace because they're deeply mired in their own grief. As a means of coping, Danny changes his middle name to Eli to keep the memory of his brother alive, and he begins cataloging a Book of the Dead in which he lists the various ways people throughout history have died. Danny is transformed the summer preceding his sophomore year when he meets 15-year-old Isabelle and her younger brother and sister, twins Jasper and Journey. He also finds comfort in his budding friendship with brainy classmate Walter. As he spends more time with this motley group, Danny feels uplifted and becomes more introspective about life and death. While processing his grief, he starts to realize the importance of moving forward ("Sometimes you have to destroy the past so that you'll have to learn how to live in the new world."). Flashbacks recalling Danny's life with Eli lend heartbreaking pathos to this story. Rupp's poignant bildungsroman is therapeutic, particularly for those readers who have experienced the unimaginable loss of a loved one.--Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA [Page 154]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.