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Excerpt from The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnafons, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Wrong Heaven

by Amy Bonnafons

The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnafons X
The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnafons
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2018, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2020, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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Excerpt
The Wrong Heaven

Evidence in Favor of Jesus Being on My Side:

  1. Word of God, as appears in Bible (obv.)
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Pipe organs
  4. Meditative feeling brought on by needlepoint
  5. Rodgers & Hammerstein
  6. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (existence)
  7. flowers/constant renewal of life cycle
  8. Billie Holiday (singer)
  9. Billie Holiday (dog)
  10. Theory that everything exists for purpose, pain and trouble sent as trials, all to bring us closer to God, etc.
  11. Way students say "Oh!" when pet caterpillars turn into butterflies

Evidence Against:

  1. Genocide/wanton destruction
  2. Insomnia
  3. Evolution
  4. Animal cruelty
  5. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (world's treatment of)
  6. Dimpled thighs
  7. General lack of love in life
  8. death of Billie Holiday (singer)
  9. Early death of Billie Holiday (dog)
  10. Dream in which I slap Jesus's face
  11. Dream in which Jesus slaps my face
  12. Dreams in which Jesus and I sit mutely on folding chairs in a blank room, as in group therapy, but with no therapist, wanting to slap each other's face but unable to rouse ourselves to action
  13. Looks on students' faces when caterpillars die unexpectedly
  14. Looks on students' faces when caterpillars die expectedly (different and somehow worse)

Evidence Against seemed to grow longer every day. Plus, a growing number of items appeared on both lists.

So on my lunch break, I went and bought some new lawn ornaments. Neither Home Depot nor Safeway had the kind I wanted; the Safeway guy referred me to a place called Tony's Catholic Bonanza, on the East Side. I arrived back at school out of breath, four minutes late, carrying an Electric Jesus and a Flashing Virgin.

My class was waiting for me at their little desks with folded hands, like anxious orphans. They're the "remedial" class (as opposed to "regular" or "gifted"), and they know it; they're always afraid of being one step behind, of discovering that something that seems like a joke will turn out not to be.

"Who's ready for marine-life dioramas?" I sang. I placed the lawn ornaments on my desk and hung my purse on the back of my chair. Then I plugged in Jesus and Mary, because I thought this would cheer them. But two of the children immediately started to cry.

I unplugged the statues, and made a mental note to add this to Evidence Against.

I stayed late to grade spelling tests, but I couldn't focus. Jesus and Mary kept staring at me.

It's not that they were lifelike—they were made of shoddy translucent plastic, their features colored in with already-flaking paint. But there was something about them. Mary had a calm, serene expression on her paper-white face, her large imploring eyes floating above her swimming-pool-blue robes, her palms folded demurely across her middle. Jesus, on the other hand, had a sort of intense, burning stare. He held His white-robed arms out to the side in a way that could have been an embrace or a pantomime of crucifixion—I wasn't sure. I'd never thought about how similar the two looked.

I leaned over and plugged them in. The electric glow shot through their translucent skin, and they lit up like fireflies against the dusky room.

"You are loved," said Mary.

"Probably," said Jesus.

"We know you have questions," said Mary. "And we have answers."

"But we're not just going to give them away for free," said Jesus. He held out His palms. "Look at the marks where the nails went in."

I grimaced.

"Come on," said Mary. She shot Jesus a reproachful glance. "We've talked about this." Then she smiled sweetly. "So," she said. "How can we help you today, Cheryl?"

Excerpted from The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnafons. Copyright © 2018 by Amy Bonnafons. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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