Skip to main content

Amelia Islander

Author Susan Zurenda to Speak at Fernandina Beach Library on April 1

Mar 06, 2020 02:40AM ● By Karen Miller

Hosted by The Book Loft, author Susan Zurenda will conduct a workshop on "Family Stories: Evoking Emotion in Your Characters" at 10 a.m. on April 1 at the Fernandina Beach Branch Library. She will also speak at noon at the library on "The Small-Town South in the 60's" and the inspiration for her new novel, Bells for Eli.  Registration information for the workshop is available by calling the Book Loft at (904)261-8991, or on the store's website at

About Bells for Eli

First cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s. But Eli’s tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately devotes herself to defending him. 

Delia’s vivid and compassionate narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence—the visible damage to his body gone—but underneath hide indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia more than anyone and attempts to protect her from her own troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. It is Delia who has that responsibility, growing more challenging each year. 

Bells for Eli is a lyrical and tender exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy in a love forbidden by social constraints and a family whose secrets must stay hidden. Susan Beckham Zurenda masterfully transports readers into a small Southern town where quiet, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. In this compelling coming of age story, culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.

Susan Beckham Zurenda taught English for thirty-three years and now works as a book publicist for Magic Time Literary Publicity. A recipient of several regional awards for her fiction, including The South Carolina Fiction Project, The Porter Fleming Literary Competition, and The Southern Writers Symposium, she has also published numerous stories and nonfiction pieces in literary journals. Zurenda lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Learn more at