The Book Reviews – Website

April 23, 2008


Filed under: H — thebookreviews @ 8:28 pm
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Author: Angela Johnson

Page Length: 138

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Fourteen year old Marley loves her life in Heaven, Ohio. She has a loving brother, Butchy and Momma and Pops by her side. Uncle Jack drifts from place to place with his dog, Boy. He writes Marley beautiful letters of his adventures and his hopes for her. Everything seems perfect in Heaven; yet, outside of Heaven, there is turmoil as churches are being burned. One day a letter arrives in the  mail asking for records of baby Monna’s baptism. Marley discovers that she is baby Monna and that Momma and Pops aren’t really her parents after all. Marley’s world is turned upside down when she discovers that her mother died when she was a baby and her father has never quite recovered. She finds solace in her friendships with Shuggy and Bobby. Marley withdraws because she feels betrayed; Momma, Pops, and “Uncle” Jack have withheld the truth all these years. Yet, Marley learns that love makes a family – and that her family has only acted out of love all along.   

REVIEW: This book was very touching. Not only does the reader experience the raw emotions of Marley who is angry that she was not told the truth, but we also experience the love and support of those around her. Uncle Jack’s letters reveal the depths of his emotions that he has not been able to express in person. Bobby becomes a strong role model for young men – he is raising his daughter all on his own and overcoming the obstacles of the past. Shuggy’s life looks perfect – yet we learn that things are not always as they seem. The characters were strong and excellently developed. The ending is beautiful (you might even get a little teary eyed). I would recommend this book as a read for all students. Heaven was the recipient of a Coretta Scott King Award.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: literary techniques: flashback, metaphors “It was one of those nights that started to go down before the sun did.”, writing styles: letters, theme, setting, characters, writing about secrets (why do we have them?)


RELATED BOOKS: The First Part Last, A Cool Moonlight, Maniac Magee

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Les Miserables, Michael W. Smith: Place in this World


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor


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