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, a brash American—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, teaching missionary lessons—“experimenting on the word.” His new partner is Elder Passos, a devout, ambitious Brazilian who found salvation and solace in the church after his mother’s early death. The two men are at first suspicious of each other, and their work together is frustrating, fruitless. That changes when a beautiful woman and her husband offer the missionaries a chance to be heard, to put all of their practice to good use, to test the mettle of their faith. But before they can bring the couple to baptism, they must confront their own long-held beliefs and doubts, and the simmering tensions at the heart of their friendship.
A novel of unsparing honesty and beauty, Elders announces Ryan McIlvain as a writer of enormous talent.
Ex-Mormon McIlvain delivers a subtly told debut novel with a tight cast of rounded characters centered on two young Mormons on their missionary work in the fictional Brazilian city of Carinha. The American Elder McCleod, and his local mission companion Elder Passos, clash culturally and philosophically in a conflict that threatens their working relationship. Central to the duo's frustrations are the church politics that prevent either from successfully applying for a transfer, and a fundamental disagreement about how to best proceed with their only realistic prospect, a local woman named Josefina whose conversion is severely hampered by a reticent husband. The novel keeps character front and center, presenting two protagonists whose worldviews are fully justified by their histories, and yet by their differences seem destined to tangle. Though brief, the novel contains a wealth of fascinating particulars; both the exotic Brazilian location (in the midst of a major soccer tournament), and the finer logistical points of Mormon missionary procedure are described in confident detail that can only be the result of the author's own experience. This refreshingly zoomed-in story is a great, short read for anybody who wants a different perspective on that church, or who simply wants a character-driven novel done right.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great writing, except...
the ending. The story arch isn't complete until you give us the "what their new reality looks like." Very much enjoyed and pictured all of the rest though.