Reviews of Heaven, Indiana by Jan Maher

Heaven, Indiana

by Jan Maher

Heaven, Indiana by Jan Maher X
Heaven, Indiana by Jan Maher
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Nov 2000, 169 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Lick up all the drips. In Heaven, Indiana chances for happiness melt as fast as a cherry-lime snow cone on a carnival midway. Against a backdrop of Ferris wheels and fortunetellers, 40 years of life in small-town Heaven unfold in this first novel by Seattleite Jan Maher

One hot week in August 1954, in Heaven, Indiana, a baby is delivered twice: once in a barn by her grandfather, the second time to the tent door of a carnival fortune-teller by her grandmother Helen. The baby, Nadja, becomes part of a long tradition of well-kept secrets in the tiny town of her birth. She grows up traveling with her adoptive grandmother, the fortune-teller, learning to develop her own gifts of precognition, reading the remains of lunches and dinners to see what lies ahead in her clients' lives.

Meanwhile, two other girls born in Heaven that same year are growing to maturity. Ellie Denson waits tables at Clara's Kitchen, and searches maps in her spare time, haunted by powerful urges to be Somewhere Else. Sue Ellen Sue Tipton marries her high school sweetheart and happily takes on the role of the town hairdresser, keeping herself informed on the latest in permanent waves and gossip, some of which revolves around Helen's temporary insanity and Lester's numerous affairs.

In spite of the penchant Heaven's denizens have for quietly getting into each other's business, a great many secrets manage to remain hidden, stuffed into apron pockets, tucked into attic trunks, locked into desk drawers. When Nadja's Granny decides to retire in Heaven, their reappearance in town begins to tease a number of these stories out into the open, with results that really give the town something to talk about. The stories emerge against the backdrop of Indiana's larger history of secrets, ranging from pre-Civil War anti-slavery societies to post-Reconstruction Klan activities.

Heaven, Indiana weaves the subtle humor and muted manners of the Hoosier State together with its sometimes foolish and sometimes devastating legacy of secrets to trace how Ellie Denson does, finally, manage to leave and Nadja does, finally, truly get to come home.

1954

ELEPHANTS PACED RESTLESSLY, their immense feet beating slow syncopations. Monkeys gossiped nervously of fearful and forbidden places. Chameleons flicked their quick tongues and tasted the August air. An unblinking boa curled round the single rock that graced its cage; the tiger mother bared her teeth and readied her claws.

Out on Millstone Road, up in Lester and Helen Breck's barn, daughter Melinda howled in surprise, then roared in rage. Pain had taken her past exhaustion to a point of pure compelling necessity. Angry at the wrenching labor, this betrayal of nature, she took a great gulp of air and finally expelled her squalling daughter. Rough hands guided the infant upwards to her mother's belly; placed her by the breast. The anonymous babe turned her lips, seeking the nipple, and laid claim to her first meal.

Around the corner and down the road, the Wild Animal Caravan of the Hoosier Midways Carnival, mysteriously persuaded that the worst of some invisible...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

A Country Rag Rural Review - Gwendoline Y. Fortune
Seldom do I care to read a novel a second time. This is not the case with Heaven, Indiana. It is a small book, but not a fast read. The reader will be willing to savor the subtle depths the author presents. I've bought copies for gifts, because I love this book.

Seattle Union Record - Wendy Fawthrop
Lick up all the drips. In Heaven, Indiana chances for happiness melt as fast as a cherry-lime snow cone on a carnival midway. Against a backdrop of Ferris wheels and fortunetellers, 40 years of life in small-town Heaven unfold in this first novel by Seattleite Jan Maher....This little bit of Heaven - a slight 167 pages - leaves us wanting more. We want more time to linger with these characters, to listen in on more conversations at Sue Ellen Sue's House of Beauty or Clara's Kitchen. It's tricky to spin a yarn over 40 years and a couple handfuls of characters. Some characters we never get to know well enough. Others we don't expect to be fleshed out. Theirs are the stories and scandals from generations back, retold as part of coffee-shop lore, the shared history and values of a small town. That's just life in Heaven, like the treats sold on the midway. Sweet and sticky.

Author Blurb Carol Bly, author of My Lord Bag of Rice and Beyond the Writers' Workshop
I love your humane, welcoming presence in the narrative...also a kind of ongoing background wit...I want to tell you you have real fictionness (a term I think the critic Donald Hall thought up himself)-story-ness, a blessed relief from obviously converted autobiography, and I will look forward all day to knowing I have a real book to disappear into tonight....You have got to have one of the most visual minds of any writer. Amazing.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Heaven, Indiana, try these:

  • The Kindest Lie jacket

    The Kindest Lie

    by Nancy Johnson

    Published 2022

    About this book

    Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

  • The View from Mount Joy jacket

    The View from Mount Joy

    by Lorna Landvik

    Published 2008

    About this book

    More by this author

    The View from Mount Joy, Lorna Landvik’s delightfully quirky and intensely moving new novel, is about a man, a supermarket, the roads not taken, and the great, unexpected pleasures found in living a good life.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.