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on August 17, 2005
When I was fourteen, I picked up this book at my high school library. Since then I've read every book by V.C. Andrews. Heaven is the best book written by her ever, and you should pick this book up asap.

Heaven Leigh Casteel is the oldest of five children that live in a shack in the mountains in West Virginia. Despised by her father, and made a slave by her mother, she is destined to be invisible. Then one cold night, her grandmother Casteel takes her out to the cemetary to show her the tombstone of a 14 year old girl named Angel. Her grandmother explains that this is Heaven's mother, a young girl who had fallen in love with Heaven's father, Luke when she was running away from her rich family in Boston. When Angel died, Luke turned into a monster and treated everyone with disdain. Now Heaven knew why her father wouldn't even look at her, much less show her affection.

When Heaven's stepmother becomes pregnant again and goes through a very difficult pregnancy and gives birth to a stillborn baby, without the support or presence of her husband, Sarah (the stepmother) just up and leaves all the children alone to fend for themselves. For months the children resorted to stealing to feed the two youngest frail children, Our Jane and Keith. During all this grief and responsiblity placed on 14 year old Heaven's shoulders, the only constant in her life is Logan, the only person in the world to ever love her for herself. But then one day their father shows up again to drop a bombshell on them: he's selling all of them to other families. For $500 a piece he first sells Our Jane and Keith. Then Fanny eagerly goes next. Then Tom, Heaven's closest sibling is sold off next, vowing that he would find a way to get them back together again. Suddenly all alone, Heaven is stuck with her evil father and a frail grandpa that done absolutely nothing while Luke sold all of his children. Finally Heaven's day arrived. But she had a choice of two differnt families. She picked the young looking couple with the striking titian haired beauty and the calm, sad looking man.

Never to see the Willies (that's the name of the mountain) again.

When she arrived at the home of Kitty and Cal Dennison, she realized that she made a big mistake choosing them. Kitty was obsessed with cleanliness...and Heaven's father, Luke. Facing years of physical and emotional abuse, Heaven turns to Cal for support and love. Only that support and love turns to an unnatural love of Heaven from Cal. Then Kitty gets sick and they decide to take her to her hometown...the valley where Heaven went to school. Elated that she could see Tom, Fanny, and Logan again, Heaven went in search of them. That's when she found out that Fanny didn't want to see her, Tom was a slave to his "adopted" father, and Logan was still in love with her. She also recieves a letter from her father apologizing and wanting all of his children to move in with him and his new wife. There is also a plane ticket to Boston, where Heaven's mother's family is at. He leaves the decision up to her, and she chooses Boston.

Such a great book!! I can't even begin to describe the pain, joy, and despair that makes this the best book ever written. To me it is better than Flowers in the Attic, with more suffering on the main characters part. Heaven keeps making the wrong decisions that leaves the reader pulling their hair out. When you read this book you feel the emotions of Heaven. Believe me when I say that this is a book (and a series) that you don't want to miss. RUN TO THE BOOKSTORE AND BUY IT NOW!
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on November 26, 2001
"Heaven" is the first book in one of my favorite series by V. C. Andrews. It begins in the Willies, a mountain range in West Virginia. This is where Heaven Leigh Casteel has grown up in poverty for the past ten years, along with her four siblings (Tom, Fanny, Keith, and Our Jane), father and stepmother (Luke and Sarah), and grandparents. All nine family members share a pitiful cabin high above the small town of Winnerrow.
One night, Heaven's grandmother takes her to the grave site of her real mother (Leigh VanVoreen, aka "Angel"), who had died shortly after giving birth to her. Leigh has always remained a mystery to Heaven (in fact, Heaven never knew she had a different mother other than Sarah), until her grandmother gives her Leigh's suitcase, which is filled with expensive items from her mother's previous life in Boston.
After that revelation, Heaven vows to never confess her birth right to anyone, especially her siblings, who she wants to keep protected. She has a pretty good relationship with all of them, except for her younger sister, Fanny, who has always been a thorn in her side. Fanny's extremely jealous of her half-sister and basically makes Heaven's life hell. She even tries repeatedly to come between Heaven and her new boyfriend, Logan Stonewall (the son of a well-to-do pharmacist), but without any success.
Even though their life is pretty pathetic so far, Heaven and her siblings receive one shock after another when their grandmother dies, and then Sarah (their stepmother) runs away after giving birth to a stillborn baby, which she believes was the result of Luke's infidelity. The biggest blow of all comes shortly after Sarah leaves, around Christmas time. Luke surprises everyone with an unthinkable Christmas present that will supposedly benefit the entire family: he intends to sell all five of his children for $500 a piece. Keith and Our Jane are the first to be "adopted". Fanny is next, taken in by Reverend Wayland Wise and his wife; then Tom, to a demanding farmer; and finally, Heaven, sold to an ex-lover of her father's (Kitty Dennison) and her submissive husband (Calhoun). Yet Cal is hardly a decent father. He would rather be Heaven's first lover than a role model. And Kitty isn't innocent of abuse either. She degrades Heaven with chemical baths and even turns her into a present-day Cinderella.
As expected in all of V. C. Andrews' books, Heaven's life is full of trauma and secrets. But her story certainly doesn't end here. It continues with "Dark Angel" and "Fallen Hearts", then "Gates of Paradise" and "Web of Dreams", the two separate stories of her daughter (Annie) and her mother (Leigh). I highly recommend this book, as well as the four other books in the Casteel series.
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on October 20, 2004
My mother forbid me to read any V.C. Andrews after the whole Flowers In the Attic epidemic. I was 12 or 13, snuck this home from the library under my winter coat (it was my very first of this author). Twelve years later, after reading anything and everything, I'm reading this book again for the ? time. Yeah, Heaven goes from from 16 to 17 to 16 to 17 every couple pages (anybody ever pick up on that?) but this is one hell of a story line, and the best of any of her series.

Read it, love it, you'll live with it forever.
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2007
This is a review on the audiobook of Heaven read by Donada Peters. More on her later.

Being 33, I sometimes want to take a walk down memory lane and read the books of my childhood and teenage years. In this case I wanted to take a trip up to the Willies, the mountains of West Virginia. Up Up Up the long dark trails, with the hoots of owls and barks of hunting dogs making echoes all around me. Until I reached a run down, grey cabin that held such dear memories to me.

Heaven is a story about a young girl of the same name, who lives in a cabin with her father and stepmother, grandparents, two sisters and two brothers. Throw in dogs, chickens, pigs, cows and cats and you can most definitely hear the banjos playing. But its more than a hillbilly coming of age story, its more about the search to find out exactly the meaning of family, and home, love and just how strong you a person you are after all the blows have landed. The Casteels are dirt poor. Down in the valley in the city of Winnerow, even the poorest there look down on them. They walk 8 miles to go to school and church, wear the same clothes day after day, sometimes ripping them apart and sewing them back together for a change.

They eat biscuits and lard gravy, sometimes hunting and fishing but mostly going hungry with so many mouths to feed. At the head is Luke, the raven haired devilishly handsome rogue, the only son not in jail and that's bragging. Luke spends little time at the family home, instead chooses to gamble and spend money at "shirleys place" which you can figure out means "where the hookers are"

Sarah is large redheaded mother, there are Lukes parents, Tom the older brother Keith the younger brother, Heaven is the oldest daughter followed by Fanny than Jane, who they quickly rename Our-Jane. Heaven learns from her grandmother that she isn't Sarah's, that Heavens mother Angel died in childbirth, and that she was extremely sweet and loving and beautiful and she did not belong in the mountains so the mountains took her frail life. All that was left is one suitcase, full of frilly things and one bride doll with flaxen blonde hair. Luke treats Heaven like she is less than a yard chicken, hates her because she killed his Angel.

I am not going to spoil this book, because its so worth reading. VC Andrews takes you into that cabin, into the poverty, makes you feel those hunger pangs. She gets you inside of Heavens head, so smart and strong that nothing life throws at her (and it hits the fan a-plenty) makes her stay down for long. I always thought that the characterizations in this series were VC Andrews best. The way she takes you from mountain, to valley to city and back, the way she writes the worst in humans and the best, and the way she tugs at your heart left me in tears.

I happened to get the audio version of this for work, read by Donada Peters. And I hated her voice. Heaven is a young girl as is most of the characters, a lot of them have some seriously thick hillbilly accents with their "Kerr" instead of "Care" and "Thar" instead of "there" and "Ah" instead of "I" Donada is way too old, and she has a bit of some kind of foreign accent of her own that makes her West Virginian sound like a Maine Yankee (think Jud Crandall played by Fred Gwynne in Pet Semetary) Throughout the audiobook I was cringing at her voice for Heaven, most of the time she made her sound like she was a chain smoking know it all bored with telling her thoughts. I would just recommend the book version if you are interested!
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on June 15, 2006
Apparently this was one of the last books VC wrote before her death (she wrote the entire Dollanganger series, I think, and then the first two books in the Casteel series). My best friend and I bonded over these books in high school! Re-reading these in my adulthood is such a nice escapist activity . . . they are still hauntingly good. Highly recommend.
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on March 8, 2005
A first person pity party for a girl who was raised in the hills of West Virginia by her father, stepmother, and grandparents. She lives with her 4 brothers and sisters -- Tom, Fanny, Jane and Keith, whom she later learns are really her half brother and sisters, because they don't share the same mother. The romance with Logan is cute, but so pretentious. The time gaps in this book were a bit "blah", but were dealable. Excellent character development (which is characteristic of a V C Andrews novel), almost no plot (but many scattered sub-plots that were hard to follow) and a ton of self-pity. Heaven is likeable, but highly annoying near the end of the book. There is just something about a woman who is supposed to be strong willed be so fickle and weak minded. It also just doesn't conjure the emotion that Cathy did in the Dollanganger series, but it sure as hell is a lot better than all the crap that her ghost writer has written. A good read, overall.
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on February 5, 2016
I am a huge VC Andrews fan. I wanted to start a series and was unsure of this one at first. It follows the story of Heaven Casteel, and has so many plot twists and turns I do not want to list spoilers. This was an amazing book, I couldn't put it down. You must read the other 4 in the Casteel series, you will not be disappointed!
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on August 1, 2015
To have an idea of what the book is about it is necessary to read at least one chapter. The title tells you nothing. After you read a short distance you find the source of the title. The book identifies a number of social problems and sets the stage for future volumes in the same series. It is a good book that takes hold of the reader. Fast paced and moving.
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on July 7, 1997
I HAVE READ MANY V.C. ANDREWS BOOKS SINCE THE TIME I WAS SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. BUT NONE OF THEM HAVE INTRIGUED AND FASINATED ME LIKE HEAVEN HAS. THE WAY THE WILLIES IS DESCRIBED THE PAIN AND THE HUNGER THE FAMILY WENT THROUGH CAN ACTUALLY PUT ME THERE IN MY IMMAGINATION. HEAVENS LIFE THROUGHOUT THE SERIES OF BOOKS IS ONE OF MANY STRUGGLES THAT ONE CAN HOPE FOR HER TO ACCOMPLISH. HEAVEN WAS THE FIRST V.C. ANDREWS BOOK THAT I HAD EVER READ AND I LOVED IT SO MUCH I JUST HAD TO READ MORE AND MORE OF HER NOVELS. NOW 27 YEARS OLD AND 4 WORN OUT HEAVEN BOOKS LATER I DECIDED TO NAME MY LAST DAUGHTER HEAVEN, AND I OFTEN WONDER IF MS. ANDREWS KNOWS WHAT AN EFFECT HER BOOK HAS ON PEOPLE TO MOVE THEM IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY WOULD WANT TO NAME A CHILD AFTER A BOOK COVER. JUST TO LET HER KNOW IF SHE WERE TO EVER READ THIS THAT I LOVE HER AND HER WORK AND WILL ALWAYS ENJOY READING HER NOVELS. THANK YOU
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on December 3, 2014
I remember loving this book when I was 15, but now I'm 30 and after re-reading it I can clearly see this is for feeding a teenage girls emotional needs. I'm not saying it's a bad book, it's quite intense, but it punched me in the face with nostalgia and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. I will probably have to leave other V.C. Andrews books in my past (because I read all of them) but I will always have a fond memory of them. If you haven't read them do yourself a favor.
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