An engaging, lighthearted, and thought-provoking fantasy about what heaven is really like.

SEAT OF TRUTH

A debut novel focuses on a journey through the Christian heaven.

At the beginning of Domexa’s book, Mitch Campbell and his mother die in a car crash in July 2015 during rush-hour traffic in West Palm Beach, Florida. As the tale unfolds, Mitch is telling readers his story from heaven. Two months earlier, he had lost his brother, Edmund, in a random shooting. Edmund is just one of the many people Mitch encounters in paradise. There is also the flamboyant Flannighans L. Molard, a gay man who sometimes sold marijuana (apparently something Mitch considers a surefire barrier to salvation). Molard’s presence surprises Mitch, who’s still operating under his previously held ideas of what a person needs to do to gain entry into heaven. “According to popular belief,” he reflects, “if you don’t go to church every Sunday, pray as hard as prophet Elijah, pay one tenth of every hard dollar you’ve earned, make pledge to charities, and never kill mosquitos, some pastors say you’re not going” to paradise. The more Mitch learns of heaven, the more he realizes the errors of those old ideas—although the process is very gradual despite all the religious and philosophical elaborations he hears from everybody there. “Mankind,” he’s told at one point, places “so much emphasis on sex, murder, and homosexuality as if these were the ultimate sins for which redemption seems almost inapplicable, while little lies, resentment, manipulation, selfishness, trifling and hypocrisy thrive among them.” Domexa’s writing style is relaxed and inviting, and his humor (particularly regarding Mitch’s formidable mother) shines through in most sections. Furthermore, Mitch’s eventful odyssey should spark some lively discussions. But the author’s decision to make his version of heaven essentially West Palm Beach with limitless buffets will strike some readers as a bit ridiculous. There are French mansions, well-trimmed hedges, and Persian rugs, and readers are told that “most things” are made of “cherry, oak, walnut trees, gemstones and bamboo.” Fortunately, this element serves the narrative’s deeper purpose of putting a very human face on eternity.

An engaging, lighthearted, and thought-provoking fantasy about what heaven is really like.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77523-240-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Zeeks Publishing Inc.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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