Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Heaven is Paved With Oreos (2013)

Heaven is Paved With Oreos. Catherine Gilbert Murdock. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 208 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I wanted to love Heaven is Paved With Oreos. I really did love Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen trilogy. And Heaven is Paved With Oreos features D.J.'s younger brother, Curtis, as the love interest. So my expectations were high.

Sarah Zorn, our heroine, has a best friend, Curtis. The two are "going out." It was part of her clever plan. The two would pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend so the teasing would stop. The two share a deep interest in dead things. Yes, you read that right, the two love studying how dead bodies (a calf in this case) decompose. These two do seem made for each other. But Curtis is tired of lying. What he is not saying is significant. It takes "losing" Curtis for her to realize that she's been unhappy with the arrangement as well.

The most unsatisfying aspect of this one--in my opinion--was Sarah's trip with her Grandma Z to Rome. Sarah's parents are initially hesitant to let their daughter go on a trip with Z. But Z has concocted a persuasive story, and pleads I've already bought her plane ticket. The middle section of the novel is their vacation together in Rome.

The novel has a theme of lying: of examining why people lie, why it may be justifiable or understandable, why people may choose to lie to the people closest to them, etc. There is something human about this one, and I suppose that is always a good thing. Sarah has to decide if she will stay angry at a person who lied to her and used her.

I did not enjoy reading Heaven is Paved With Oreos. Sarah and Curtis may be made for each other, but, reading about a decomposing calf and all the talk about reconstructing the bones for a science fair was unpleasant. I am glad that Sarah and Curtis eventually communicated with one another. The ending with these two was super-sweet. Sarah's trip to Rome with Z left me unsatisfied.



I really hated Z's lies. I thought she used her granddaughter horribly. She was selfish and untrustworthy. She lied to Sarah's parents; she lied to Sarah. She had ulterior motives for wanting to go to Rome. And when her fantasy collapsed, she had a breakdown leaving Sarah to care for them both in a foreign country. And her excuses for the trip in the first place were WEIRD. Part of me was glad that they fell away as lies. She had Sarah convinced that visiting seven churches in Rome would assure her [Z] a place in heaven. "But thousands of pilgrims over hundreds of years have visited this church because they hoped it would help them with heaven, and Z needs to go!" (101) and "instead we did something that was a lot more fun, even if it won't get us into heaven..." (106)

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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