After reading A Cool Moonlight by Ms. Johnson I was eager to read more of her younger reader titles. In Heaven, we meet Marley. Marley lives with two loving parents and her brother, Butchy. There's never been any real drama in her life in Heaven, a small town that lives up to its name. Then one day, a letter from Alabama changes her life forever. Marley is devastated and angry. She feels betrayed. But her friend Bobby (a character from another Johnson novel, First Part Last) reminds Marley what hasn't changed: her family loves her and she has friends who support her. He says it must be really hard to hate people you've loved your whole life.
The revelation about who she is a big adjustment. Through a combination of fragments of her past shared in Jack's letters, memories and her mother's personal items, Marley processes the news of who her real parents are in her time in her own way. The intimacy of Jack's letters to Marley and the immediacy of the present tense translates the emotion and conflict here in a particularly effective way. This novel is geared towards older elementary, early middle schoolers. While the issues are complex, the reader isn't overwhelmed by the themes. An endearing story about love, family, adoption and identity. I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to sharing it with our community of readers.