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The Next Queen of Heaven: A Novel Paperback – October 5, 2010
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“Comes alive in many dimensions, many of them funny and slightly bonkers.” (Los Angeles Times)
“A delight. . . . [A] funny and warmhearted exploration of the sacred and the profane.” (Washington Post)
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Top Customer Reviews
It did get a little easier to read after a while, especially once I got the characters in the right order. And I do have to say that there were many instances where I found myself laughing out loud. I couldn't help it - there were just so many things going on and the more I thought of them, the funnier I found the whole thing to be. It was silly. The characters were over the top and the situations they found themselves in were unbelievable. There's a little bit of everything in this book - religion, sexuality, HIV, two feuding churches, teen pregnancy, musicians, even elderly nuns. It was pure mayhem! With all the crazy and zany antics throughout, there was also the more serious tone of finding and believing in oneself.
I also really enjoyed that the book takes place around Christmas - and I think Mr. Maguire did a great job in capturing the Christmas spirit - in his own quirky way.
I can't say that I loved this book, but I can definitely appreciate it. I found it too busy for my tastes and I felt that the ending lacked a little. I would have liked more closure for some of the characters. All in all, I can't say this is a book for everyone but I can see where many would still enjoy it.
I also thought the parallels between Jeremy's long failed relationship with Willem to Tabitha's recently failed relationship with Caleb were nicely drawn. So what if Jeremy's gay and Tabitha's a bit loose? They both loved someone who loved someone else more, and it hurt no matter the sexual orientation. Then look at the nuns growing older and older, locked away from the world, while the young die from accidents and disease... The old are certain of their own upcoming deaths, while the young are certain of their long lives... Proving again that everyday is a gift not a promise.
In between bursts of sarcasm and crazy, GM brings to life the old cliches of living life well and to the fullest... Otherwise the Virgin Mary or Flying Baby Jesus might try to brain you.
Jeremy Carr is the choir director at the local Catholic parish. He is hoping to make his big break after Christmas as he has won a place in a musical revue in New York. Jeremy is gay, and his singing group is made up of his friends who are also gay; one fighting AIDS. What has kept him in Thebes outside of a sense of obligation is his inability to stop loving Willem, who had a fling with him before Willem got married. Jeremy knows his love is impractical, but is stuck and can't bring himself to leave.
Another part of the book revolves around the Scales family. Mrs. Scales is raising three children by herself, and looks to religion to help her get through the days and provide a structure for her children. She is met by indifferent success, at least by the measures of traditional success. Tabitha is the oldest and the town scandal as she moves from man to man. The middle son is Hogan, a dropout who is interested in cars and garages and video games, but not much else. The youngest is a son named Kirk, who is interested in music and drama and doesn't fit in well in a traditional school setting. Mrs. Scales, who is a fundamentalist Christian, is transformed when she goes next door to the Catholic church and gets hit over the head with a statue.
There are other characters that play a part in the patterns. A group of ancient nuns live in an old convent outside of town, and a friendship develops between them and Jeremy's group. There are various ministers and priests, some of whom are helpful and some of whom use religion to accomplish their personal goals. Each person is clawing their way towards finding some meaning in their lives.
Gregory Maguire is best known for his Wicked series, which used The Wizard Of Oz story to reinterpt live and love. This new book strikes out into fresh territory, which retaining Maguire's offbeat humor and ability to delve into his character's lives. This book is recommended for all readers.
Problem....the ending. I hated the ending. The ending sucked! No, I won't give anything away but for crying out loud, resolve something, will ya? Like a couple of 800-pound gorillas in the room?
Since I just read "Confessions of a Wicked Stepsister" which had a knock-my-socks-off ending, this was doubly disappointing.
You know who might like this ending? People with degrees in literary criticism. You know--the kind who, when you rave about a clever metaphor or plot twist--roll their eyes and mutter, "A bit obvious, if you ask me." THOSE kind of people might like this ending and if they do, maybe they'll drop me a line and explain why it's so good.