Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Elders, by Ryan McIlvain

Elder McLead is three quarters of the way finished with his mission in Brazil.  As an American, he has a difficult time fitting in with the locals, and as a brash headstrong young man, he has difficulty fitting in with the other missionaries.  He gets paired with a new partner, Elder Passos, who is a Brazilian convert.  They two men could not be more different, and it puts tremendous strain on their partnership.  Their relationships changes when they begin working to convert a beautiful woman and her husband, until everything goes terribly wrong.

I must admit that I have a lot of curiosity when it comes to the Mormon religion, which is what drew me to this book.  I am fascinated by Mormon doctrine, and I while I know of their missions, I know very little of what life is like for the missionaries.  I felt like this was a very honest view of what can happen to young missionaries.  Obviously not all missions are like the one depicted in the book, but I bet more missionaries struggle with these things than anyone is willing to admit.  The biggest struggles discussed in the book revolve around sexual sin and lack of faith or belief, problems I see plaguing all kind of religions.  Many Mormons may not care for this book, considering it dirty and inaccurate, but I bet it hits home more than any would like to admit.

I really thought the writing was fascinating.  I felt drawn into this secret world, like I was spying on the characters, and I enjoyed that voyeuristic aspect.  I found Elder McLead to be genuine, and can imagine many readers would relate to him.  I personally rooted for him, and felt bad for every setback and frustration he suffered.  The dynamic between the two elders is really interesting for the most part.  The plot is not packed full of action, this story is more about nuance.  For that reason, some readers may find it a little slow, but I was intrugued.

While the sexual issues and strong language are present in the book, they are pertinent to the story, and therefore I had no issue with them.  I would even say that with the sexuality and language, this book would still be appropriate for mature teen readers.

I received  a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program, in exchange for my honest review.




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