Coverart for item
The Resource Heaven, Angela Johnson

Heaven, Angela Johnson

Label
Heaven
Title
Heaven
Statement of responsibility
Angela Johnson
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
At fourteen, Marley knows she has Momma's hands and Pops's love for ice cream, that her brother doesn't get on her nerves too much, and that Uncle Jack is a big mystery. But Marley doesn't know all she thinks she does, because she doesn't know the truth. And when the truth comes down with the rain one stormy summer afternoon, it changes everything. It turns Momma and Pops into liars. It makes her brother a stranger and Uncle Jack an even bigger mystery. All of a sudden, Marley doesn't know who she is anymore and can only turn to the family she no longer trusts to find out
Member of
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • Coretta Scott King Award, Author Category, 1999.
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1999
Review
  • Books for Youth, Older Readers: Gr. 6-10. In Humming Whispers (1995) and Gone from Home, Johnson writes powerfully about deep family sorrow and loss. Here she writes about happiness despite sorrow, about a teenager whose life has always been heaven. Marley, 14, lives in the small Ohio town of Heaven, rooted in her loving African American family, close to good friends, and part of a caring community. Then she discovers she is adopted--Mom and Pops are really her aunt and uncle, and for a while, Heaven seems like hell. The paradise setup is too idyllic, and in the anguish of Marley's discovery and upheaval, everyone is absolutely perfectly supportive and understanding. And Marley's real dad comes home at last. What saves this from being generic Hallmark is Johnson's plain, lyrical writing about the people in Marley's life. Everyone has secrets. There are all kinds of loving families. Marley baby-sits for a devoted single-parent dad. The owner of the general store is like a mother to the neighborhood. In fact, the most troubled family is the "perfect" nuclear one of Marley's best friend, who needs as much support as Marley does. On the news, they hear about people burning churches, but Johnson makes us see the power of loving kindness. ((Reviewed September 15, 1998)) -- Hazel Rochman
  • Gr 6-9-What makes a person who she is? Is it her name, the people she lives with, or is blood the only link to identity? Marley, 14, suddenly plunges head first into these complex questions when she discovers that the people she's been living with her entire life aren't her real parents. Butchy is not her real brother, and her mysterious Uncle Jack, who has been writing her short but beautiful letters for as long as she can remember, turns out to be her real, very absent father. In spare, often poetic prose reminiscent of Patricia MacLachlan's work, Johnson relates Marley's insightful quest into what makes a family. Her extreme anger with her supposed parents, who turn out to be her aunt and uncle, for not telling her the truth, for not being the perfect family that she'd always thought them to be, wars with her knowledge that not even her friend Shoogy Maple's model family is as perfect and beautiful as it seems. The various examples of "family" Marley encounters make her question what's real, what's true, what makes sense, and if any of that really matters as much as the love she continues to feel for her parents in spite of their seeming betrayal. Johnson exhibits admirable stylistic control over Marley's struggle to understand a concept that is often impossible to understand or even to define.-Linda Bindner, formerly at Athens Clarke County Library, GA
  • As in her Gone from Home (reviewed above), Johnson here explores the themes of what makes a place home and which people family. Fourteen-year-old Marley's tranquil life in Heaven, Ohio, turns hellish the day her family receives a letter from Alabama. The note (from the pastor of a church that was destroyed by arson) requests a replacement for Marley's baptismal record, and reveals that "Momma" and "Pops" are really Marley's aunt and uncle, and mysterious Jack (an alleged "uncle" with whom Marley has corresponded but doesn't remember) is her true father. In this montage of Marley's changing perceptions, Johnson presents fragments of the whole picture a little at a time: images of people, places (the Western Union building "1637" steps away from Marley's house) and artifacts (a box filled with love letters between her birth parents) gain significance as Marley begins to make sense of the past and integrate her perceptions into her new identity. The author's poetic metaphors describe a child grasping desperately for a hold on her reality ("It was one of those nights that started to go down before the sun did," she says of the evening the fateful letter arrives). The melding of flashbacks and present-day story line may be confusing initially, but readers who follow Marley's winding path toward revelation will be well rewarded. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
  • /* Starred Review */ After spending most of her life in bucolic Heaven, Ohio, a teenager finds her certainties come tumbling down. Marley Carroll likes her family, has two steady friends, and a wandering uncle, Jack, who sends her poetic letters describing his travels and asking about her thoughts and dreams. Her peace is shattered by the arrival of a different sort of letter, addressed to "Monna Floyd," from an Alabama deacon trying to reconstruct a burnt church's records; the people she calls Momma and Pops apologetically explain that they are actually her aunt and uncle, that Jack is her father, and that her mother died in an auto accident when she was very young. Devastated, cast adrift, Marley searches for her parents in a small box of mementos, and in early memories, meanwhile struggling, in light of her new knowledge, to redefine her other relationships. Ultimately, in her friends' situations as in her own, Marley finds clear evidence that love, more than blood, makes a family. Johnson (see review, above) uses the present tense to give her ruminative, sparely told story a sense of immediacy, creates a varied, likable supporting cast, and communicates a clear sense that Marley--and Jack, still working through his grief--are going to be all right. (Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1998)
Awards note
Coretta Scott King Award, author, 1999.
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
076139
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1961-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Johnson, Angela
Index
no index present
Intended audience
  • 790L
  • Middle School
Intended audience source
Lexile
Interest level
  • MG
  • MG
LC call number
  • PZ7.J629
  • PS3560.O37129
LC item number
  • He 1998
  • H43 1998
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/minGradeLevel
  • 6
  • 9
Reading level
  • 4.7
  • 4.7
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
Series statement
Heaven trilogy
Series volume
0001
Study program name
  • Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning
  • Accelerated Reader AR
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • American fiction
  • Adoption
  • Parent and child
  • African Americans
  • Adopted children
  • African American teenagers
  • Families
  • Adoption
  • Parent and child
  • African Americans
  • Adopted children
  • African American teenage girls
  • Fourteen-year-old girls
  • Small town life
  • African American parent and child
  • Families
  • Teenage fiction, African American
  • Realistic fiction
  • Birthparents
  • Coretta Scott King Award
  • Adopted children
  • Adoption
  • African American teenagers
  • African Americans
  • American fiction
  • Families
  • Parent and child
  • Ohio
  • Ohio
Target audience
pre adolescent
Label
Heaven, Angela Johnson
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
328630
Dimensions
20 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
138 pages
Isbn
9780689822292
Lccn
98003291
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780689822292
  • (OCoLC)38738743
Label
Heaven, Angela Johnson
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
328630
Dimensions
20 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
138 pages
Isbn
9780689822292
Lccn
98003291
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780689822292
  • (OCoLC)38738743

Library Locations

    • Carver BranchBorrow it
      1161 Angelina St., Austin, TX, 78702, US
      30.2695584 -97.7240278
    • Manchaca Road BranchBorrow it
      5500 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX, 78745, US
      30.2166039 -97.79733689999999
    • North Village BranchBorrow it
      2505 Steck Ave, Austin, TX, 78757, US
      30.362144 -97.7305032
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