(Image from Barnes & Noble)
After being blown away by Angela Johnson's The First Part Last, I was thrilled to find out about its sequel/prequel, Heaven. Every time I close an enjoyable book, I feel like I'm leaving friends behind. It's always nice when I can step back into their lives and see how they've fared since last we met. Naturally, then, I wanted to see how Bobby and Feather have grown and changed. Turns out, they haven't. Well, they've aged a teensy bit, but that's about all. Both make appearances in Heaven, but the book isn't actually about them at all.
The book concerns 14-year-old Marley, a girl who's content with her life in Heaven, Ohio. It's not the most exciting existence in the world, but her parents are kind, her older brother's cool and her best friend, Shoogie, always makes her laugh. Letters from her globe-trotting Uncle Jack allow her a peek at the outside world. It's enough for Marley.
Then, she receives startling news, information that leads her to question everything she's ever known about her life, her family and herself. How can the people she loves and trusts have misled her? Who are her parents, really? If she doesn't know them, how in the world can she ever know herself?
While Heaven doesn't equal or even really resemble The First Part Last, it's still a touching little book. It raises questions of what it means to be a family, if there's any such thing as a perfect one, and how we all fit together in this great big human race. The book didn't stir me like The First Part Last did, but Heaven's definitely a nice, affirming read.
(Readalikes: Hm, can't think of any.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for some mature themes
To the FTC, with love: Another library