HEAVEN EYES by David Almond
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 10 - 14
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Almond’s fans will willingly follow him on yet another journey into a surreal, murky world that may be dream or reality. Three orphans, labeled "damaged children" by their well-meaning custodian, seek freedom by sailing down the river on a raft fashioned emblematically from three doors. When they run aground in the silt of Black Middens, a mysterious, web-fingered child, Heaven Eyes, and the threatening man she calls Grampa rescue them. Grampa and Heaven Eyes live a reclusive life in the rubble of an abandoned print works. Almond sets this scene well: "The walls and ceilings creaked and groaned. Dust seethed all around . . . Shadows shifted . . . Dangling doors led into pitch-black rooms . . ." Grampa enigmatically keeps a secret journal, patrols against "ghosts," and digs in the river mud for treasure and Saints. In one of his quests, years earlier, Grampa pulled the tiny Heaven Eyes from the mud and has raised and protected her in isolation. Heaven Eyes, who speaks a distinct, beautiful, childlike dialect has the ability to "see through all the darkness in the world to the joy that lies beneath." Mysteries abound: who is Grampa? what are the ghosts? who is the "Saint"? and what is Heaven Eye's backstory? Almond chooses to answer only some. The story teems with symbols: darkness and light, angels and wings, birth and death, and the river that flows throughout. The circular journey works well as the three orphans with Heaven Eyes return to Whitegates Children's Home, changed and with greater self-knowledge. Some may quibble with a conclusion, in which one orphan's mother makes a dramatic reappearance, but Almond is essentially an idealist and readers will be satisfied. Not as elaborately layered as Kit's Wilderness (2000), the winner of the 2001 Printz Award, but brilliant in its technical control of setting, theme, and plot. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 10th, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-32770-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001


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