TBR Reviewer: Kim
This was very much a poignant story. It started off slowly but I think that was essential as the two tales were being told simultaneously. It certainly picked up after about 15% and ran away with itself! Nate's story was one of indecision. He didn't know how to resolve the fact that he had been murdered. After many years, with the help of various relatives (as angels) he makes a momentous decision.
Jesse's story is profoundly sad, he loves his dad with a passion but sadly his dad is a terminal screw up and just keeps letting Jesse down. Where does this leave him? At first it was hard to see what each story had to do with each other but then -bang- it hits you between the eyes. The merging was very cleverly done and when I came to the dramatic end I was in tears.
I totally recommend this book. Under Heaven is a moving and well written story.
How could I ever make sense of these bits and pieces of my life when I was too frightened to hold any one image in my mind long enough to understand? Just thinking about the man with a bulldog thick neck and arms like tree limbs sent chills sweeping up and down my spine. Each time I envisioned him, it was as though my imaginary monster reaching a clawed hand through prison bars for me.
Nerves already frayed to the breaking point, I didn’t know how much more I could take. As much as I feared answers, I resigned myself to finding out more. Though Grandma Clara usually wore some version of a nurse’s outfit, the one she wore that day was longer than usual with a high frilly collar and lacey cuffs. It made her look both elegant and professional, which seemed proper given what I had to talk to her about.
“Is this Heaven?” I asked.
“There are many names, but I like the term Under-Heaven.”
“How did I die?”
“I don’t think that’s for me to say.” Her eyes squinted in sympathy.
“Because you already know.”
My monster rocked viciously back and forth. It was like all the terrible people from my past, or what I thought was my past, wrapped into one horrifying body, and it wanted out. The key to its cage was in my hand again. As though it was scalding hot, I dropped it and forced the vision away.
“Why don’t I remember?” I asked. Just voicing the question made my chest tighten and my throat constrict.
“You will, little one,” she said. “But it has to be at your own pace.”
“I hate not knowing, but I’m also terrified of what I might learn.”
Grandma Clara drew me into a tight embrace. “I’m so sorry I can’t help you with this.”
“It’s not fair,” I said, pushing her away. “I have to get this over with.” Even as the words left my lips, I knew it was a lie. I knew I didn’t have the courage to face that monster, and I doubted I ever would.
“You have to choose your own timing, Nate. That’s part of growing as a soul. I have faith you’ll remember when the time is right.”
I closed my eyes and was suddenly overcome with the image of my mother. I hadn’t realized before then how much she looked like my grandmother only younger. My body clenched at the sight of her tear-filled eyes.
Why were you crying, Mom?
What a horrible past I must have had!