REVIEW: Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde
HEAVEN ADJACENT by Catherine Ryan Hyde is exactly why her books populate my Kindle more than any other author. She lures me in with her characters’ situations, captivating my heart and mind with their personalities.
Attorney Roseanna Chaldecott runs away from New York City, deciding she craves personal space far away from people. She buys some property in the country on a whim when her car runs out of gas. It appears Roseanna will get her wish to be alone in the run-down, shack of a home, until she finds the first pair of squatters.
Two by two they come to her as if she has built the ark. Will Roseanna ever accept the chaos of love, or will she continue to guard the gates to her heaven-on-earth with sarcasm?
Roseanna helps her squatters create art out of all the junk they find in the barn, much to the annoyance of the neighbors. When a reporter shows up, hoping to do a human-interest story on Roseanna’s intended new life, she’s skeptical. But he promises he’ll keep her location secret. Roseanna’s best friend’s death pushed her into a new life that she believes no one in her past will understand. She hopes by sharing her story others will find their bliss.
Of course, the reporter gives a big enough hint about her location so that her thirty-year-old son finds her, immediately followed by her law partner and many looky-loos. That was what she feared most.
The squatters range from human to animal, something that Roseanna’s sarcasm finds irresistible, making the reader laugh. She has found a piece of heaven-on-earth, and even though she doesn’t realize it yet, she is a part of what makes this place special. Can she deal with squatters without legalese, allowing herself to care about those less fortunate?
The chapters twist back and forth through Roseanna’s timeline of decisions, giving the reader just enough information to make them insanely curious for more. I love this technique because it is so well-honed. It’s a clever way to reveal a story, making me wonder if Hyde writes like this to begin with, or if she writes, disassembles, and then puts it all back together.
I loved several of the squatters, but the five-year-old really entertained with her outrageous personality. The little girl is so precocious that it tips Roseanna’s sarcasm into overdrive. She’s falling hard for this little girl, realizing she’s doomed in resisting her. Roseanna’s son, who finally comes out about his gay lifestyle to his mom, is a great character. I loved how their relationship healed and grew, making the conclusion especially sweet.
I discovered Hyde’s talent when I reviewed LEAVING BLYTHE RIVER in 2018, quickly followed by TAKE ME WITH YOU. She’s swiftly earning a spot as a favorite author. Every time I read one of her novels, I download more of her backlist, determined to have them all.
I loved HEAVEN ADJACENT so much that I read it a second time to make sure that my review benefited this book’s awesomeness. I think once you try a Catherine Ryan Hyde book, you’ll be like me, buying everything she has written. So far, this one is my favorite and I can’t wait to recommend it to my book club.
Catherine Ryan Hyde always entertains with her quirky characters and tightly woven storytelling. Her books are always active, filled with clever and often witty dialogue that moves the story in a rapid pace. There isn’t wasted description – it plays an active role with the dialogue, forcing me to push page after page late into the night.
There are many reasons why I’m attracted to a book like this. Number one, Roseanna runs away to a farm. Nothing is funnier than a city slicker learning how to exist on very little, including assumed conveniences that don’t exist. Especially a cranky lawyer aching for a set down by common folks just trying to get by. Having lived in the city and the country, I can relate to the humor when opposite ends of the financial spectrum hit the fan.
Secondly, Roseanna has run away from home. Something I say all the time when I’m off on one of my back-to-nature excursions. If you haven’t experienced running away from home yet, Roseanna proves how it cleanses your soul. The quirky characters who enter her life, human and otherwise, are very funny as well as heartwarming, with a little heartbreak thrown in for good measure.
Favorite Roseanna idioms…but you’ll need to read the book to understand why they stand out and make me laugh just thinking about them.
“Somebody just handed me a fish.”
“Do I look like the arbiter of eggs?”
The title HEAVEN ADJACENT makes this book sound religious but it’s not. It has great life lessons, so those with a deep faith will appreciate it, but it doesn’t lean to any specific religion, nor does it include bible quotes. What I loved most was Roseanna’s character growth. The last page is the best true-to-character conclusion I’ve ever read.
Almost everyone is familiar with PAY IT FORWARD, the book that launched a movement, and like me, you’ve probably seen the movie. I haven’t read that story yet, so I came to Hyde’s talent completely unbiased by what came before. I had no idea she wrote PAY IT FORWARD, but now it makes perfect sense when I compare it to what I’ve read so far. I’m so curious about how she creates a book because they’re written seamlessly. I’m sure her path to finished product is especially analytical. It has to be to get all her ducks in a row with no wobbles.
HEAVEN ADJACENT’s focus is one cranky woman’s journey to fulfillment and the fallout she creates with her one moment of self-preservation. It’s entertaining and beautiful, sarcastically funny, and full of heart. Highly Recommend!
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. Digital copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. Thanks in advance for following links or sharing this review on social media.
Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Category: Women’s Fiction, Family Life
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (June 19, 2018)
Rated 5 out of 5, Recommended Read
Q: What’s your favorite Catherine Ryan Hyde novel? Who are your other favorite authors?