The novel’s sensitive but grounded voice seamlessly integrates Gothic elements, the cousins’ emotional arcs, and the shifting cultural landscape. Insightful and assured, Zurenda’s haunting coming-of-age story should appeal to fans of nuanced and atmospheric Southern fiction.
There is hardly anything I enjoy more than discovering a truly uniquely talented author. So you can imagine my excitement in discovering Susan Beckham Zurenda. She is a brilliant writer and to make it even better a brilliant southern writer. . . . For me reading this story was like going home. I knew this town, knew these people, knew this world. Zurenda spoke to me in a way few authors have in the past. . . . .Mark down her name – Susan Beckham Zurenda. You are going to hear a lot more from her and about her
Bells For Eli is a triumphant debut brimming with captivating characters and Southern charm. Author Susan Beckham Zurenda writes powerful and clear prose that pulls the reader inside small-town South Carolina, fifty plus years ago, and tells the story of Adeline Green and her coming of age experiences with friendship, love and the powerful bond she has with her cousin, Eli. Zurenda’s ability to create a truly authentic and vivid backdrop to such a heart-felt story is something readers will enjoy on every page
[Bells for Eli] is deeply moving, troubling, and gloriously poetic. It brings to life small town South Carolina during the 1960s and 70s in a gorgeous and profound tale of the heart’s competing destinies. . . Zurenda knows her characters well and shares her understanding with harrowing honesty. . . . A terrific multi-generational tale.
I was immediately transported back in time to the significant cultural challenges of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and how many survived those times, and some did not. And I could feel the heat as Zurenda described a small-town South Carolina summer with no air-conditioning and dusty front porches. . . . .Delia brought her story alive, just for me
Zurenda's book is well-written, with believable, sympathetic characters, . . . a faithful representation of recent history in our society that kept me interested and engaged in Bells for Eli from beginning to end.
MOST FIRST TIME AUTHORS are happy just to get published. Not many find themselves Okra Picks, featured author at Publishers Weekly, or receiving advance accolades from The New York Times best selling authors. Susan Beckham Zurenda, author of Bells For Eli (MERCER UNIVERSITY PRESS) is the exception... Zurenda's future now looks bright.
Bill welcomes debut novelist Susan Zurenda to the show. After teaching literature, composition, and creative writing to thousands of high school and college students for 33 years, Susan turned her attention to putting a novel in her heart on paper, the genesis of which started with a short story that won a fiction prize some years ago and Bells for Eli was published on March 2!
"Coming of age narratives, particularly about young women, have long been a staple in the literature of the American South. Zurenda’s marvelous book is a major achievement in this genre. It is deeply moving, troubling, and gloriously poetic. It brings to life small town South Carolina during the 1960s and 70s in a gorgeous and profound tale of the heart’s competing destinies."
“From time to time, Mama proclaimed I ruminated too much,” says Delia Green, the narrator of Susan Beckham Zurenda’s debut novel, Bells for Eli. What Delia mostly ruminates about is her close relationship with her cousin Eli, whose family lives across the street in the small town of Green Branch, South Carolina. The two cousins’ worlds are changed forever in 1959 when Eli accidentally swallows lye on the day before his third birthday."
"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."