Synopses & Reviews
A glorious debut that T.C. Boyle calls "powerful and deeply moving" that follows two young Mormon missionaries in Brazil and their tense, peculiar friendship.
Elder McLeod — outspoken, surly, and skeptical — is nearing the end of his mission in Brazil. For nearly two years he has spent his days studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon, knocking on doors, and teaching missionary lessons. His new partner is Elder Passos, a devout, ambitious Brazilian leaning hard on the salvation he recently found in the church after his mother’s early death. The two young men are initially suspicious of each other, their work together at first frustrating and fruitless, their burgeoning friendship tenuous. So when a beautiful woman and her husband invite them in and offer them a chance to share their teachings, the Elders’ practice is at once put to good use, testing the mettle of their faith and their patience as partners. Before they can bring the couple to baptism, Elder McLeod and Elder Passos must confront their own long-held beliefs and doubts, and finally face the simmering tensions at the heart of their camaraderie.
Unsparingly honest and beautifully written, Elders is by turns a compelling portrait of a friendship in the balance and a poignant reflection on the binding nature of faith.
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“Admits readers to a kind of inner sanctum....McIlvain zeros in on the inner struggle, exploring the appeal of faith and the sorrow that comes with losing it." New York Times
“Glows with the love and anger of a former believer....Clear-eyed...Finely paced, keenly observed, and ruefully honest.” Boston Globe
"[A] classic in Mormon letters....Excellent, Mormon-themed novels are few and far between. This is one of them.” The Daily Beast
“McIlvain dissects the mix of need and ambition and genuine faith that fuel a disciplined devotion....Earthbound....Honest....Builds to [a] drastic resolution.” Slate
About the Author
Ryan McIlvain grew up in the Mormon Church and resigned his membership in his mid-twenties. His writing has appeared in many journals, including The Paris Review. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, he currently lives with his wife in Los Angeles.