Customer Reviews for

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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5 Star

(6)

4 Star

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3 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    Easy to read, almost too easy

    To keep it short... a very good writer who has sold himself short. Next time I hope he delves more into the psyche of his characters and doesn't leave them so 2 dimensional. Plus, the ending was very lacking and unsatisfying - as if he thought - I guess I'll end the book today. I hope to see more from this author in the future to see how he grows with his writing. All in all I enjoyed the book despite its' flaws.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2008

    The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

    In this debut novel, Dinaw Mengestu gives an inside look into the lives of three African immigrants living in Washington, DC, who are not exactly living out the American dream that they had hoped for. Main character Sepha Stephanos is a listless shopkeeper struggling to keep his business afloat in a poor neighbourhood. His regular customers are prostitutes who walk the neighbourhood streets and a nosy old widow who speaks to herself. His two friends - the only ones he has - are Joseph and Kenneth. Both African immigrants themselves, Joseph is a waiter at a posh restaurant who finishes off the customers' leftover wine, and Kenneth is an overworked accountant whose boss bullies him into working even on Christmas Day. With nothing to do and little they can afford, the three gather each week at Sepha's shop and quiz one another on the details of Africa's many coups. When a white female lecturer, Judith, and her bi-racial daughter, Naomi, move into his neighbourhood, Sepha's life takes a sudden turn and is filled with hope and excitement once again. He even begins to harbour hope that businsess at his shop will pick up. The novel is no page-turner as it progresses slowly, revealing itself in layers. Impatient readers might get exasperated by the lack of action and conflict. But the book poignantly captures the sadness and loss that fill the lives of immigrants who find that they can never quite fit in.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2007

    Exquisitely tender.

    A book that needed to be written! For one so young, Dinaw Mengestu writes with incredible insight touching many aspects of American society that are usually ignored. I look forward to reading his future works, of which I hope there will be several.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2007

    Caught Between Two Worlds

    Wonderful debut novel told from the unusual point of view of an Ethiopian immigrant. The story engaged my interest from the first page and held it to the end of the narrative. Interesting subtle use of flashbacks in the story, moving the plot along seamlessly. I hope Dinaw Mengestu will write, or has written, more novels. I'll definitely read them.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    Good debut novel

    The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is a rather thin work of fiction that reads like a long short story. This is typical of creative writing MFA grad school style. Mengestu's MFA is from Columbia, by the way. There is too much dialogue. The characters are sketchily drawn and the plot is barely there. Nevertheless, it is an intelligent, thoughtful work of fiction. The protagonist, an Ethiopian immigrant shopkeeper named Sepha Stepahnos, comes across as a mouthpiece of the author rather than a flesh and blood character. Part of this problem stems from the story being told in the first person. Sepha is simply too knowing, too observant, too fond of spouting literary references, to be convincing. A strong, third person narrative voice would have helped this novel tremendously. As it is, it is still a worthwhile book. I look forward to other work by Mengestu.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    Heartbreaking and Gorgeously Written

    I couldn't put this book down. It was absolutely beautifully written - the language was divine. Highly recommended

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 15, 2010

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