Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Review of Searching for Eternity




I just finished reading Elizabeth Musser's new book, Searching for Eternity, and I got a pleasant surprise at the end. I'm mentioned in the acknowledgements! She thanks me for providing information. I thought this was particularly considerate of her since I really didn't do much. I sent her a little info on microfilm and its history. It wasn't a lot, and I'm not sure it was particularly useful. But I was thrilled to see my name. (Finally, I made it into print!)

Seriously, though, you need to read this book. I've read four others by Elizabeth, but in my humble opinion, this is by far the best. Here's a reminder what the story's about: "Following his father’s dubious disappearance, adolescent Emile de Bonnery is forced to leave his native France for Atlanta, Georgia, never suspecting what awaits him in the South of 1964—culture shock, racism, and friendship with a strange girl named Eternity Jones. He brings with him to America an odd collection of ‘treasures’ used by his father during the French Resistance. With the aid of these ‘treasures’, Emile and Eternity find themselves on a journey through abuse, betrayal and prejudice which will ultimately lead them into a spiritual quest for healing. Spanning four decades, their journey unfolds like a spy story and its conclusion shows what happens in the midst of complex human relationships when an adolescent goes searching for eternity."

There were so many things going on at so many levels that I couldn't wait to keep turning the pages. First of all, the mystery of Emile's father's disappearance runs through the entire book. There's the spiritual story of people suffering abuses in different times, places, and cultures--from Emile's suffering at the hands of racist bullies, to Eternity's abuse from her mother and men, to victims of the Holocaust and war. Such different levels and kinds of suffering, and yet they share similar struggles over leaving the past behind and starting life again.

And then there's the love story between Emile and Eternity. They meet when they're thirteen and form a deep, lasting bond. Both are outcasts at Northside High School in Atlanta--Emile because of his heavy French accent and European ways, and Eternity because of her paradoxical love of culture and "trailer trash" family. A tragedy tears them apart while they're still young, but circumstances keep drawing them together over the years. They're never able to break away from one another, but terrible events in Eternity's past won't let them be together, either. I couldn't wait to get to the end and see what finally happened between the two of them, although I was almost afraid to.

On a more trivial note, I enjoyed reading about familiar places in the Atlanta area. The story continues from 1964 up until the early nineties, and I was in Atlanta during some of those times. Characters ate at my favorite restaurants and attended churches I've gone to. It felt like a trip through my past as well.

Searching for Eternity is a unique, complex story. How many other CBA books have you picked up that start out with a thirteen-year-old French boy as the protagonist, and that cover a mystery and a love story spanning several decades? I strongly urge you to pick up a copy. If you want more info on Elizabeth and her books, here's her web address: http://www.elizabethmusser.com/