Between Heaven and Here by Susan Straight, Hardcover
Proceeds from sale of this book have been donated to 826NYC who offer highly individualized creative writing instruction for over 4,000 young New Yorkers every year. Free programs throughout NYC empower young authors and develop crucial skills they need to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
In August in Rio Seco, California, the ground is too hard to bury a body. But Glorette Picard is dead, and across the canal, out in the orange groves, they’ll gather shovels and pickaxes and soak the dirt until they can lay her coffin down. First, someone needs to find her son Victor, who memorizes SAT words to avoid the guys selling rock, and someone needs to tell her uncle Enrique, who will be the one to hunt down her killer, and someone needs to brush out her perfect crown of hair and paint her cracked toenails. As the residents of this dry-creek town prepare to bury their own, it becomes clear that Glorette’s life and death are deeply entangled with the dark history of the city and the untouchable beauty that, finally, killed her.
Check out a preview of the book & real-life stories and images that inspired the novel!
Praise for Between Heaven and Here:
“It is only the rarest of novels that cry for a sequel, the most unusual of stories that at once satisfies and leaves the reader aching for more. Susan Straight’s remarkable Take One Candle Light A Room is such a novel. And she has satisfied our desires in Between Heaven and Here, a magnificent novel, that manages to be at once unflinchingly real and transcendently beautiful. Susan Straight is one of the very best American writers. If you haven’t read her, you’re in for a delight and an awakening. If you have, then you’re probably as thrilled as I am that she has taken us back to Rio Seco.”
“Susan Straight finds LA’s secret heart in Between Heaven and Here and with a sleight of hand only the masters have, she creates an alley, a neighborhood, a history that is as rich and tragic as any Shakespearean tale.”
“Straight employs glorious language and a riveting eye for detail to create a fully realized, totally believable world.”
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
“The mysterious murder of a hooker kicks off this exquisitely wrought final installment (after Take One Candle Light a Room) of Straight’s trilogy, set in fictional Rio Seco, California. When Glorette Picard’s longtime admirer, Sidney, discovers her body in a shopping cart in an alley behind a taquería, he fears the wrath or indifference of the police, and so claims her corpse as his responsibility, setting of a storm of consequences. Left behind to weather the world on his own is Glorette’s young son, Victor, who memorizes SAT vocabulary words to drown out the crack dealers, and her uncle Enrique, who takes it upon himself to avenge her death. Straight plunges readers into a whirlwind of dialects, drugs, derelict homes, and delinquent locals as she weaves together the story of Glorette’s life and death, while addressing weighty and timely issues like race, language, and the socioeconomically disenfranchised. Straight deftly avoids clichés and easy outs, and her refusal to vilify or sanctify the numerous members of her cast allows the experiences of each to resonate powerfully.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“And yet, in a novel set in a world in which people are too often stripped of dignity, Straight has accomplished the larger act of ennobling her characters. She sees them clearly and gives them a striking presence on the page.”
—New York Times
“Straight, a 2001 National Book Award finalist for Highwire Moon, has the ability to create straightforward contemporary voices, no pun intended. She does not subscribe to the maximalist school of over-the-top characters, yet she can still dramatize the complex, jagged nature of American culture today. ”
—The Daily Beast
“Despite the tragedies that befall them, Straight’s characters still recognize the splendor of the natural world, from the pepper trees behind the taqueria to the orange blossoms in the alley scenting the midnight air… Straight’s group portrait of this community ought to be recognized as a national artistic treasure. Her focus on this singular place magnifies the hopes and disappointments of so many Americans, so many humans on earth.”
—The Boston Globe
“Susan Straight has remarkable range as a writer. Her voice can be elegant in the rhythms and vocabulary of her narrative, yet also blunt and raw in dialogue… Her work is so intensely alive in its movement, action, and in the speech of her characters that reading it is almost like being caught in the center of a storm: exhausting but exhilarating at the same time.”
“How can a novel that is essentially the story of a dead prostitute prove so uplifting? It must be some kind of black magic that only Susan Straight can work… And by the end of this gorgeous and heart-wrenching novel, this family will be your people, too.”
—The Dallas Morning Star News
“A thoroughly engrossing novel, one that operates powerfully in the empty, lonely gaps between people.”
“Straight’s writing pulls the reader into a world that is both surreal and yet inescapably concrete, ugly and beautiful all at once. She binds the multifaceted perspectives together into a narrative that is fragmented but still very much whole.”