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Books: Hometown Indiana

Carol Elrod, a long-time Indianapolis Star reporter and her husband “chucked it all” for an interesting new life: they bought a house on the small Caribbean island of Montserrat. The book, developed from a detailed diary and full of interesting human and atmospheric details, tells the story of friendships with island native people, encounters with a traditional culture of “do it tomorrow,” caring for everybody, and reverence for both God and zombies. Simple parts for everyday items were objects of scavenger hunts among the town’s stores; bats flew over worshippers’ heads at the local Methodist church; the band played off-key when Prince Philip visited. The Elrods fashioned a beautiful life among exotic plants and humble neighbors, whose decency and friendship they came to love. How striking was their sadness, then, with the coming of the 1995-97 volcano which destroyed half the island, killing several, and burying the Elrod’s home as they fled for their lives.