Have you ever read a book that made such an impact that reading it became a defining moment? The summer I read Gone with the Wind, for example, or the fall I dusted off the Lord the the Rings set I had gotten the Christmas before. I remember being in odd corners, those paperbacks getting a workout as I snuck a page or a chapter on the bus, by the pool, between classes, in the car. There were the steamy summer days curled in a chair with a fan blowing on me and the frigid winter evenings, homework done, cuddled under a blanket.

With many of my favorite books, I can tell you where I was for the major passages and, sometimes, on rereading them, I think of where I was on the first reading (though, admittedly, I’ve only just discovered the adventures of rereading old favorites).

When I first read Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, by Michael O’Brian, I was on the couch, in my blue wingback, in the car, whereever I was witha minute or an hour to read. Karen said it was one of her favorite books, and I’m glad she did, or I might not have found this gem of a book!

It’s a hefty novel, the perfect kind of book for summer reading — or fall, or winter, or spring. 🙂 It’s the kind of fiction that turns a story into something more than entertainment, that explores those things that can be so dry and dull and non-summer-reading material and makes them come to life with a relevance that makes you look over your shoulder to make sure that it is a novel and not a transcription of what’s happening now.

It’s disturbing, but that’s the nature of an apocalyptic novel, I suppose. I tend to roll my eyes at the idea of apocalypse, but here it is without the very things that make me roll my eyes, the drama that feels human instead of divinely inspired.

Ah, but I’m botching things up here. Father Elijah is good, good in a way that few books are, engaging without being over-the-top, descriptive without overdoing things, real without being dull.

It paints a picture of our world in many ways, even as it offers something I so need when I start to think too much about our world: hope. Yes, that’s right, a book with “apocalypse” in the title and it offers hope.

I won’t say too much more, aside from the fact that I’ll be getting my own copy in the hopes that I’ll be revisiting it again in the future. I also harbor a secret hope that someday, one of my girls will find it there, on our shelf, and find herself curled up with it, her brain zimming and thrumming along. I’m also planning to explore more books by O’Brien, because this one was really just that good!