All We Know of Heaven: A Novel

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He pulls out a flask, downs it, and then proceeds to try and force himself onto Eddie's mother. Eddie's father walks in at this point and manages to stop the drink fueled rape, then chases Mickey all the way to the pier, where Mickey jumps into the freezing water as an attempt to evade him, even though unable to swim. Eddie's father jumps in after Mickey and saves him instead as they had long been friends and he felt he owed him despite his recent drunken behavior towards his wife.

Eddie's father later dies after falling ill due to being in the freezing water when he rescued Mickey.


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Ruby tells Eddie that he needs to forgive his father and tells him that hatred was a deadly weapon, "We think it attacks the person we hate, but hatred has a curved blade, it also attacks us". Then Eddie moves on to another heaven. Eddie now awakens in a room with several doors. Behind each of the doors, there is a wedding from a different culture and Eddie meets his late wife, Marguerite, in one of the weddings. They spend an extended period together, moving from one wedding to the next and catching up on all the things they had not been able to share since Marguerite's death.

They remember their own wedding, and in the end, Marguerite teaches Eddie that love is never lost in death, it just moves on and takes a different form. He begs her forgiveness for never making more of his life, never leaving his job at the pier, and for not giving her a better life she so richly deserved. However, she answers that she loved the fairground and their life on the pier, and the only thing she regretted was them not being able to have any children.

He replies that all he would've changed is to have had even more time together with her, for it not to have been cut short like it was by her early death. Marguerite's love for weddings comes from the look in all the brides and grooms' eyes right before the ceremony; the shared feeling that their love will without a doubt break all the records.

Marguerite asks Eddie at one point if he believed they had that; he simply replied, "We had an accordion player", to which they both laugh. Eddie and Marguerite's wedding was on the rented top floor of a Chinese restaurant and was very low-budget, but the couple holds nothing but fond memories of the occasion - in Eddie's house, Dominguez finds a case of sentimental objects, including a restaurant menu from their wedding night.

When Eddie awakens to a new scene, his fifth and last, he sees children playing along with a riverbed and a young Filipina girl named Tala waves and comes up to him. They attempt to understand each other, but finally, Tala manages to communicate and reveal that she was the little girl from the hut that Eddie set on fire.

All We Know of Heaven: A Novel

And Eddie finally realizes that shadow he had seen all those years ago in the burning hut, and in his nightmares for most of his life afterward, was indeed not imagined - the little girl had been that shadow attempting to flee the flames. The girl shows Eddie the burns that she suffered when dying from the fire, as her previously clear skin turns to burnt flesh and scars. Eddie is absolutely distraught and breaks down both cursing and asking God "why? The little girl walks into the river and hands him a stone and asks him to "wash" her like the other children in the river are doing to one another.

Eddie is puzzled, tells her he doesn't know how, but then slowly attempts to do as she asks. He dips the stone in the water and starts to scrape off the injuries he had inflicted on her; and soon to his surprise, Tala's wounds begin to clear until she is freed of all the scars.

Eddie then asks Tala if she knows if he was able to save the little girl he attempted to save before his death. He tells her he fears that he failed to save her and he remembers feeling the little girl's hands in his just before his death. But Tala tells him he did indeed manage to save her, he had actually pushed her out of the way and then reveals that it was her Tala's hands that Eddie had felt instead as she pulled him safely up to Heaven.

So in reality, Eddie did manage to save the girl at Ruby Pier. Tala teaches Eddie that his life was not for nothing and that its purpose was to protect all the many children at Ruby Pier through his care for the safety of the rides. In this way, Tala explains, he also managed to atone every day for her unnecessary death. He is shown a vision of all the many people he saved along the years by his maintenance work, and consequently all their children's children down the generations. For he wants everyone to be free of accidents, everyone safe.

He is once again told that every life touches another and that everything is connected, it is all one big life. Eddie : The protagonist and main character around who the story centers; at the start of the story, he is killed on his 83rd birthday. When he awakes in heaven, he is taken on a journey to meet five people whose lives intertwined with his in many ways which he never expected. As an adult he wanted to work as an engineer. Eddie would always remember "her waving over her shoulder, her dark hair falling over one eye. Joseph Corvelzchik, The Blue Man : Joseph's skin had been turned blue when he was a boy because of repeated ingestion of silver nitrate , thought to be an effective medication at the time.

He had been given this medication to cure his "nervousness" and bed-wetting at a late age, and Joseph simply attributed all the side effects to not ingesting enough. Handicapped by this disfigurement, Joseph eventually made a life for himself at Ruby Pier. Joseph is a "middle-aged man with narrow, stooped shoulders, naked from the waist up.

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His belly sagged over his belt. His hair was closely cropped. His lips were thin and his face was long and drawn. The Captain : Eddie's commanding officer at war. He has a "full head of dark hair" and looked to be "only in his 30s. Ruby : A woman for whom Ruby Pier is named by her fiance Emile. Ruby's face was "gaunt, with sagging cheeks, rose-colored lipstick, and tightly pulled-back white hair. Emile : Ruby's husband, who also created the original Ruby Pier. He wore "a chalk-stripe suit and a derby hat. Eddie's mother : Eddie's mother was known for her tenderness" towards Eddie and his brother Joe.

Eddie's father : He abused Eddie his entire life. He smoked cigars [18] and was a card player. Mickey Shea : He is a family friend. He worked with Eddie's father "fixing rides at Ruby Pier. Mickey attempted to rape Eddie's mother because of loneliness and depression. Mickey and Eddie's father fought, and Mickey was almost killed by Eddie's dad, but eventually, Eddie's dad ended up saving Mickey from drowning in the ocean, causing the pneumonia that killed Eddie's father".

Dominguez : He is Eddie's friend and coworker at Ruby Pier. He is "a lanky, bony-cheeked young man.


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Annie : Amy or Annie is the "little girl with a pipe-cleaner animal". Tala : Tala is a young girl Eddie sees in a burning hut. She is a Filipina, maybe five or six years old with "a beautiful cinnamon complexion, hair the color of dark plum, a small flat nose, full lips that spread joyfully over her gapped teeth, and the most arresting eyes.

Nicky : Nicky is a young man who visited Ruby Pier, and practically the reason why Eddie died. He dropped his car keys in the Freddy's Free Fall ride, causing its gears to jam and its cable to snap.

All We Know of Heaven: A Novel by Mitchard, Jacquelyn

My issue was that the character flaws of many of the monks were simply accepted rather than struggled against. Several were grumpy and seemingly bitter. One was even a pyromaniac bent on destruction. I was further disheartened when realizing it was likely a realistic portrayal as the author is a monk himself.

Needless to say, it was not the story I was hoping for. A much better novel concerning the cloistered life is Lying Awake by Mark Salzman.

Jun 03, Margarita rated it really liked it. Slow start but interesting and edifying in the end. And also interesting to see the variety of personalities, not even most of them seeming particularly religious or spiritual, who chose this life. Feb 28, Diane rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. Feb 29, Torie rated it liked it. Being obsessed with a hermeticism, b nuns, and c French Canadians, the subject and setting of this book was immediately appealing.

While not about nuns at all, this memoir documented various stages in the life of a young Cistercian monk in a French Canadian abbey. The writing is quietly and gracefully descriptive, surprisingly humorous, and instead of being solely about the author's spiritual life, it's really about the meaning of community. Dec 28, Jess rated it liked it.

My method of choosing books to read is usually to scan the "recently published" section of the library shelf for something interesting. I wound up taking out this book twice. The first time, I got halfway through, was bored, and brought it back. It didn't seem familiar the second time until I got it home and was reading it. Annoyed, I made myself finish it and I had a much different appreciation for it the second time around.

Feb 22, Kat rated it it was ok. This novel by a monk about monks was fun to read, mildly interesting and mildly amusing. It is also baffling: surely a young man who becomes a monk has an out-of-the-ordinary relationship with God? There is no hint of that relationship in this account; even later, as the monk matures and grows more fulfilled in his work at the monastery, God seems almost an after-thought. Jan 04, Laura rated it liked it. Perhaps it's just my location in life right now but the idea of being a monk who works on a farm and leaves the chaos of the outside world behind sounds appealing to me.

This book reminded me that often when we slow down and get still, we find God and grace. Apr 28, Ellen rated it really liked it Recommends it for: seekers. A sort of "coming of age" novel about a Trappist monk, written by a monk. It's about experiencing God in ordinary and extraordinary ways. I liked it. Aug 11, Marvin rated it liked it Shelves: religion. A young Cistercian monk's coming to terms with the mundaneness of monastic spirituality a series of meditations, really, without sufficient dramatic continuity. Dec 07, Maure Briggs rated it it was amazing. Utterly delightful! Sep 06, Vicki rated it it was ok Shelves: cultural.

Interesting, but wanted more. A little slow and dull. May 18, Kelly rated it really liked it. Jan 11, annakatrina rated it really liked it Shelves: contemporary. Jan 21, Sharon rated it liked it Shelves: canada , monastic , life. I liked this book enough to finish it. I enjoyed the descriptions of cloistered life, but I didn't really care for and believe the main character. I did believe and very much like his parents!

Feb 22, Cheryl S. Unusual book with surprising humor which I enjoyed a lot even though the story ended abruptly. Jadai rated it really liked it Nov 08, Pat Padden rated it it was amazing Jul 11, Joshua rated it really liked it Jun 18, Mira Ve rated it liked it May 26, Becca rated it did not like it Jul 24, Raymund rated it did not like it Nov 17, Charlie Bradshaw rated it liked it Mar 31, Lori rated it it was amazing Jul 04, Mary rated it really liked it Feb 16, Caroline rated it it was ok May 28, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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