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The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell

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Member Reviews

The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell
A Novel
by Kelly Flanagan
Pub Date 18 Oct 2022
 InterVarsity Press,  IVP
 Christian  |  General Fiction (Adult)  |  Religion & Spirituality

I am reviewing a copy of The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell through Intervarsity Press,  IVP and Netgalley:

Elijah Campbell finds himself on the verge of loosing his career as  a writer his faith, and his marriage when a recurring childhood nightmare drives him back to his hometown, Bradford's Ferry.   It is there his encounters with loved ones both past and present shed light on the reason his wife left him—and the meaning of his nightmare. However, beyond the light he begins to glimpse something even more terrifying—a decision he must make either to continue hiding the secrets of his past or unhide the only thing that can save his marriage: himself.  

Psychologist Kelly Flanagan drew from clinical insight to explore the spiritual depths of identity and relationships in Flanagan's nonfiction works which include Loveable, True Companions, he drew from clinical insight to explore the spiritual depths of identity and relationships.

In this debut novel he weaves a page-turning and plot-twisting tale that brings new life to those insights, along with fresh revelations about personal growth, spiritual transformation, and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. This visit to Bradford's Ferry will linger long after the final page has been turned, and a guide for group discussion invites further conversation about the story's themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.

I give The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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Unlike most readers, according to reviews, I had difficulty being engaged with this novel. It is mostly prose with lots of reminiscing, remembering, and dream experiences. Elijah comes across as a person who, even in adulthood, will not face his own weaknesses. He is not an honest man, hiding credit card debt from his soon to be and then new wife, for example. He is not honest with his therapist. The novel follows his long journey of self-discovery.

This is a novel for readers who like the slow path of working through memories to self awareness. It is a good book for those who would like to go through a similar inner journey or are perhaps experiencing a midlife crisis. There are many good lessons one can find in the story and the discussion questions are good for thinking about them.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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A really good fiction read. The kind if fiction that could be absolutely true. Actually is true, for all of us. If you like Mitch Albom or Billy Coffey, thus book will be a good fit. As a writer, my heart especially went out to Eli. The best writing is soul-baring.
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This review was shared with the Woman Alive book club, which I run. 

I have to be honest – when I started this book I wasn’t sure how much of it I would get through. To begin with, it was only the glowing recommendation of another editor that kept me persevering…but I am so glad I did. The writing is exquisite – OK the ‘action’ doesn’t move along quickly, which is what I took some time to get used to (I was desperate to find out what would happen next and impatient to wade through descriptive writing instead – but then I discovered that description was the whole point of the book!) However, the unravelling of Elijah’s life, and the journey he goes on to piece it back together is poignant, painful and full of lessons for us all.

Kelly does not shy back from delving into pretty dark places, and also shares the painful struggle Elijah has of not sensing God there. I love how he incorporated spiritual practises into Elijah’s journey of discovery. I was fascinated, particularly, by how he used lectio divina – one of the characters, Father Lou, describes it as a way of harnessing your God-given imagination to read scripture in new ways. But then he (wisely or unwisely?) suggests Elijah uses it to start conversations within himself, waiting to see who turns up for the discussion. He does this and has conversations with both the dead and the living – a really interesting concept, which I’m still unsure how to respond to but I am sure there will be strong opinions about from others.

This is a really beautiful and unsettling book. Very different from anything I’ve read in recent years. Definitely worth checking out.
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The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell

“I will never give you permission”
6 words. Each one a life changer. A soul satisfying, life changer. From secrets that would rather remain hidden, to learning to let the light in and embracing all that life has to give back to us.  Join Eli on his journey in this great story about staying hidden in a comfortable place that we think is protecting us, to realizing there is so much more if we let in the goodness all around us and stop hiding.  If you like a good story-teller that will keep you wanting to read well past the time you have, this is your book! I found myself craving to know more with each passing chapter.  My “I got 5 minutes to read more” would turn into 10, then 20. Every page will captivate you into wanting to know more about Eli and how walking with him through his journey can transform and open up your life. If you are looking to give a loved one (or anyone) the gift of inspiration, faith, love, hope and/or a place to find themselves, this will make the perfect gift. ORDER IT NOW!!
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Right from the start, in the intriguing Prologue, the reader is pulled in to this story, leaving you desperate to know how it will all unfold.

It is so insightful, looking into the mind and the thinking of the main character, seeing his doubts, insecurities and internal conversation that is easy to relate to. The author has a great ability to write the inner workings of someone’s thoughts, so convincingly. To really get inside someone else’s mind, even the darkest of recesses, in a realistic way.

The book is about the main character coming to terms with who he is, whether it is by way of a midlife crisis, a crisis of faith or a personality crisis, or a combination of them all. And the irony is not lost on the reader that he has made a career writing books on just these topics. But a fragile personality is tipped over the edge, having never really admitted to himself, or others, who he really is, which leads down a path of unravelling and eventually rebuilding.

As his life falls apart, he visits old haunts and his background is revealed, exposing some of the reasons why he is how he is. The amateur psychologists amongst us will have a field day spotting all the clues along the way, that have been laid by a truly professional psychologist author.

It is a well presented case study of how past experiences frame the present, and in many cases need to be dealt with to unblock us, allowing us to move on.

In the story, the people he is reunited with, some real and some trawled from the depths of his imagination, lead him through his unravelling, his rediscovering of purpose and direction and his rebuilding of faith in himself, in others and in his God. A lifetime of pain and shame, that has never been dealt with, surfaces and finds resolution and peace.

It is a brilliantly written book, packed with emotive and creative writing, lovely descriptions, plenty of clever use of language, insight and touches of humour.
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I was unable to appreciate this book although the premise sounded so good. Not sure if it was the stroy line, characters or writing Bu i could hardly finish,
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A bit triggering, this book is contemplative in nature as it very precisely examines the life of Elijah, the central character. His doings and undoings, his tantrums, his thoughts, his actions all comes into scrutiny as well as his redemption of his life. At times therapeutic, at times a bit thorny, this books is a good faith fiction.
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'Comtemplative' is the adjective I'd use for this book that reads like an autobiography but is actually faith based fiction.  The life of Elijah Campbell (Eli) is in a scramble - some would call it a "mid-life crisis".  He seems to pout and whine and kick up an angry tantrum or two, precipitated by his own hiding of many secrets of his past as well as his present, even from his wife Rebecca, which culminates in a bleak - looking future.  Thus the need for the "unhiding".

I almost gave up on this book because it seemed like a spoiled brat whinging and wallowing in self-pity and found it boring in parts, so I admit to impatiently reading in spurts and skipping paragraphs here and there, until I got 'arrested' with narrative of interest, about which to cogitate.

However, empathy did kick in, and I had to realize, hey! many people have past hurts and traumas, or are even occuring in their current present, that horrendously affect their present and their trust in the goodness of God and I needed to give Eli a break.  So saying, I believe this would be a good therapy-type of book (although actual going to a therapist should not be preclued if need be, especially if having suicidal thoughts, I believe).   Those people of like childhood angst could relate to and even may be greatly helped by Eli's struggle and wrestling to heal and find that place in which to cross that nightmarish bridge to moving into their future with faith, healing and fortitude.

May this be a message of hope and healing to many.  

                                            ~Eunice C.,  Reviewer/Blogger~

                                                          June 2022

Disclaimer:  This is my honest opinion based on the review copy sent by NetGalley and InterVarsity Press publisher.
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