Monday, June 23, 2008

Eli by Bill Myers

There are very few books I can read more than once--not because I don't often find good books, but because there are so many books I haven't read and want to and don't want to spend time on books I've already read. Bill Myers' brilliant story, Eli, is one of the few (along with anything by Amy Tan). This book tells two stories, one about Conrad Davis, a reporter for a primetime news magazine who has nothing but his job. He's divorced from Suzanne, the mother of his daughter, Julia, and recently divorced from his second wife. At the beginning of the book, Conrad is in a coma following a car crash, and his daughter must come to terms with her feelings for him--having a series of flashbacks leading up to the incident that damaged their relationship--as she struggles to determine whether or not to pull the plug.

The second story is about Eli Shepherd. While in a coma, Conrad is in a world in which Jesus never existed. Myers answers the question, "What if Jesus hadn't come until today?" with Eli. Conrad sees Eli as a baby, born in a motel laundry room, and he sees him again as a young man embarking on his ministry and revealing to people that he is the son of God. Unlike in the time in which Jesus lived, Eli can communicate to the masses through television and other modern technologies. His apostles include a former white supremacist biker, a former adult filmmaker, and Conrad. Suzanne also is a follower of Eli, and Conrad is given a second chance to treat her like he should have during their marriage.

Eli offers a modern-day telling of the raising of Jairus' daughter and of Lazarus and the healing of many sick and disabled people. Sandwiched between scenes from Eli's ministry is Conrad's fight for life. Julia, struggling with her own family problems, is pressured by her father's most recent ex-wife to end Conrad's life, but she is hesitant. Meanwhile, Eli, like Jesus, comes to the end of his ministry on earth. Myers does an excellent job presenting a modern-day version of the crucifixion and balancing parallel worlds.

I think I enjoy Eli so much because it makes the story of Jesus come alive and makes the Gospel relevant to our lives today. It's also a story about forgiveness, redemption, and second chances--things we all need at one time or another.

Disclosure:  I purchased my copy of Eli.


Serena said...

What a great story...I like the idea of the parallel story lines here. Maybe I should read this one.

Dawn said...

Another interesting one. You're going to make my read list just as long! ;O)

Courtney said...

I haven't read this book yet, but I think it will now go on my to read list.

Anna said...

If any of you read this book, please let me know. I'd love to chat with someone about it. Serena, you can borrow my copy if you'd like, since I see you nearly every day.

Anonymous said...

I have just read Eli by Bill Myers. It is one of the best Christian Fiction books I have ever read. Yet even though it is fiction, it still resonated with me because of the way it presented the Gospel in a new perspective. It made me wonder how I would have reacted had Christ not appeared 2000 years ago, but today. I think it is a great book for Christians and non-Christians alike. Bill Myers has a real gift! Read this book!

Anna said...

That's exactly how I felt about the book. Thanks for stopping by my blog!