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Between Heaven and Here Hardcover – September 12, 2012

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

“Every brother on the Westside had fallen in love with Glorette, and even though she’d been on the street for ten years . . . no one had ever fallen out.” When her body is discovered behind a taqueria, the repercussions can be felt like an aftershock in the town of Rio Seco, a tightly knit community near L.A., and in Sarrat, where Glorette’s family resides among the orange groves. Suspicions run rampant. In Rio Seco, everyone has a secret, some of which are common knowledge, but no one is talking. Straight has not written a murder mystery here but instead has fashioned a closely observed profile of an insular community with roots going back to Louisiana and the flood of 1927. This immersing novel, set five years before Straight’s Take One Candle, Light a Room (2010), includes a number of the same characters, and as in its predecessor, past and present are inextricably commingled. Every action brings to mind some past action, reminding us of Faulkner’s famous remark, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” --Ben Segedin

Review

"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."
—Ayelet Waldman

"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."
—Walter Mosley

"Straight employs glorious language and a riveting eye for detail to create a fully realized, totally believable world."
Kirkus (Starred Review)

"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)

"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

"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."—The 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

"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."
The Rumpus

"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 News

"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."––BUSTLE

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Thus edition (September 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365753
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Straight was born in Riverside, California, where she still lives with her three daughters, nephew, extended family of over 200, and chickens. She has published seven novels - Aquaboogie (1990), I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots (1992), Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights (1994), The Gettin Place (1996), Highwire Moon (2001), A Million Nightingales (2006), and her latest, Take One Candle Light A Room (2010). Her short stories have been published in Zoetrope All-Story, McSweeneys, The Sun, Oxford American, O Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, and other places. Her story "The Golden Gopher," published in Los Angeles Noir, won the Edgar Award in 2007. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harpers, The Believer, Reader's Digest, Family Circle and other magazines.

Her website is www.SusanStraight.com, featuring An American Family, with ties to ancestors from Switzerland, Africa, Canada, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan Rae Oldfield on August 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After reading Susan Straight's previous novels in the trilogy, which I loved, this novel was a disappointment. She makes clear that some chapters were previously published in magazines. It was disjointed and a lazy effort. I would much rather have heard more about Fantine, or her nephew, Victor. In some chapters the train of thought is almost lacking. I may be white, but having grown up in a black neighborhood, I'm pretty good at understanding the jargon, but here? Not! It's as if she had more threads to unravel and threw them all in and hoped it stuck together--it didn't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sue on August 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
i found this book to be confusing at times you had to really pay attention so you could remember who was who and who was related to who
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Straight is an extraordinary writer with a keen appreciation for the nuances of human behavior, the quirks and missteps, the shadowy areas where a moment's decision changes the direction of a future, where memory illuminates truth. When Sidney Chabert finds Glorette Picard's lifeless body tossed awkwardly into a shopping cart in an alley in Rio Seco, California, time stands still as memories rush to the surface of the young Glorette, the sheen of her honey-colored flesh, the purple density of her eyes, a cascade of dark hair down her back, a girl who catches the attention of males and females alike. Raised on the small family enclave of Sarrat, a homeplace recreated from the original one in Louisiana, at thirty-five Glorette has fallen prey to the pipe, to the false ecstasy of chemical nirvana. Available to willing customers, Glorette's nightly stroll through the alleys of Rio Seco with her friend Sisia is a familiar sight.

Rather than leaving Glorette to the indifference of law enforcement (and the arbitrary label, NHI: no human involved), Sidney enlists the help of others to quietly deliver the dead girl to Sarrat, that her father and uncle might bury her with dignity. As Glorette is deposited on her uncle Enrique's couch late at night, his wife Marie-Claire holding vigil with the departed, the men carry out the logistics of burial, everyone caught by the powerful cycle of memories evoked by Glorette's passing. With delicacy and compassion, Straight shares the ruminations of men and women alike, the gnarled history of the family in Louisiana, the remaking of the homeplace in the groves of California, the threads of the past bound inextricably with the present.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Susan Straight revisits stunning beauty Glorette and once again she draws in her readers by vividly painting a picture of the lives of her central characters. I recommend this story to anyone, but especially those who have read Straight's past works. A brilliant writer.
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By Tracy O on June 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I actually live in "Rio Seco" and I am totally blown away by Susan Straight's ability to capture the city, plus how quickly I care very much about her characters.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Straight takes readers to another place. When you finish her books you feel as if you've met a whole new group of people. Her observations and descriptions are unique and real.
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By fwcindyt on February 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read all 3 books in the trilogy. Well worth the time and the money. I would recommend to anyone.
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By rjf on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A snapshot of life told from the perspective of a variety of related yet distinct voices. The author obviously has a great ear for dialog and writes a very engaging story. One of those well told stories that makes the reader want to know what happens next to each of the characters. Well done!
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