Sweet, Hereafter
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Sweet, Hereafter

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by Angela Johnson
     
 

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After Heaven and The First Part Last, three-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Angela Johnson concludes her acclaimed trilogy with a poignant tale of finding where you belong and who you belong with.

Shoogy left home with all her jeans still in the washer because she couldn’t think of a reason to stay. She’s not sure where she

Overview

After Heaven and The First Part Last, three-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Angela Johnson concludes her acclaimed trilogy with a poignant tale of finding where you belong and who you belong with.

Shoogy left home with all her jeans still in the washer because she couldn’t think of a reason to stay. She’s not sure where she belongs, until she meets Curtis. Curtis knows for certain where he does not want to be and that’s to be back in the army. He is happy to be in Ohio, where it is quiet and he can spend time with Shoogy. But when Curtis gets orders to return to Iraq, will belonging with each other be enough to keep Shoogy and Curtis together? Angela Johnson takes us back to Heaven, Ohio in this bittersweet tale of first love found and lost.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This thoughtful tale, with its quietly poetic sensibility and timely themes, will resonate with those who are grieving the loss of loved ones because of the war. -- BULLETIN, March 1, 2010
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Sweet's bitter life does not even begin to match her sugary name. She has run away from home, fighting to figure out where she fits and then she finds Curtis. Curtis, who is in the reserves to save up for college, has a small cabin on the edge of town where he lives alone until Sweet comes along. He recently served in Iraq and the night terrors affect him more than he lets on. Sweet knows not to worry when he disappears for days at a time or withdraws into himself, and Curtis knows not to press Sweet about her family. They live in their mutual respect for a time but eventually two MPs show up and Sweet finds out Curtis is actually AWOL. Curtis kills himself rather than go back to the front and Sweet is left to sort out her feelings and realizes that in learning to live with and even love Curtis she has found room to let more love into her life and decides to give her family another try. This third installment in the Heaven trilogy brings back a few familiar faces for cameo appearances but lacks the charm of the first two books. It is a short book, almost too short to really feel connected to the characters. The reader is given a taste of things that never seem to be fully fleshed out and there is a hint of preachy-ness in the message of the cruelties of war. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
VOYA - Beth E. Andersen
In the concluding volume of Johnson's Heaven trilogy, Shoogy, who had a supporting role in the other volumes, is center stage. A brilliant, restless, renegade, Shoogy lives in a cabin near Heaven, Ohio, with her boyfriend, Curtis, who shares Shoogy's sense of being boxed into impossible corners. Shoogy ran away from home to relieve some unnamed pressure. She has an arrangement whereby she attends a couple of high school classes while holding down a job. Curtis, an Army Reservist who has already served one tour in Iraq and is being deployed again, is AWOL. Shoogy's friends from the previous two volumes, a charming group of mismatched devoted chums, watch out for Shoogy as she struggles to keep Curtis safe during his desperate downward spiral. Johnson, award winning author of three Coretta Scott King Awards, as well as a Printz Award and a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, again uses spare, gorgeous, realistically raw language to bring to life a complex teen of great depth and heart. Reviewer: Beth E. Andersen
Kirkus Reviews
Sweet never really fit in at home or at school, but she has satisfying friends and connections. Few are surprised when she leaves-or is kicked out of-her family home, but there is talk in her small town when she moves into a cabin in the woods with a young man. Curtis, somewhat mysterious, is a military reservist and college student, home from Iraq and-perhaps-AWOL. "I've had secret parts of me since I was little. I'm used to it, and I guess it makes sense I'd love the secret parts of another," she says. Sweet doesn't question Curtis's enveloping sadness, and there is an air of inevitability about the way he avoids returning to war. Johnson's evocative yet starkly simple language powerfully shows the devastating effects of the war on one small community. Whether in a scene at a high-school career fair with military recruiters or in the conversations between Sweet and teens readers met in the book's award-winning companions, Heaven (1998) and The First Part Last (2003), the characters and circumstances are never anything less than rich and real. (Fiction. YA)
ALAN Review - Jeuel A. Davis
A lost soul just trying to find her way, Shoogy can't seem to figure out this thing called life or where she belongs in it. School definitely isn't her thing, she just can't make it work with her family, and the one thing she remembers a psychic telling her is that she was destined to come and go. In this world of uncertainty, the only thing that seems to be constant is her relationship with Curtis. Curtis and Shoogy might not be able to understand anything else, but they understand each other, and that is what gets them through this life haunted by war, prejudice, and trauma. Adversity wears many hats and can come in the form of the Iraqi war, or in the form of a tragic loss. But,the real question for Curtis, Shoogy, and every other young person, is: how will you live in spite of the adversity? Reviewer: Jeuel A. Davis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689873867
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
01/04/2011
Series:
Heaven Trilogy Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
360,257
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

THERE’S A FRONT PAGE PHOTO OF MY friend Jos standing by the side of a road on a hot summer day. I almost don’t recognize him, because he’s out of place. It’s a frozen moment in time—but I’m so used to Jos being animated, funny and moving. It bothers me that one picture can define everything in other people’s minds but never really tell the whole story.

A cop in dark shades is touching him on the arm. Gently. The photographer was close, ’cause you can see every line on the cop’s and Jos’s face. There weren’t any lines an hour before.

• • •

It’s early. Everything is quiet. Too quiet. I turn on the radio to make sure there hasn’t been some kind of world-ending disaster. Hell—they do happen. More than you could ever dream they do. I’ve seen them, been a part of them, don’t even have to watch the news to see one happening.

My feet are cool on the old hardwood floors, and I don’t even mind that I’m still trying to work out a splinter. I walk to the front window.

I love the cool.

And I love the feeling I get knowing I’m walking on floors people walked on a hundred years ago. I blow the candle out ’cause finally the sun is struggling past the clouds.

The radio crackles as I stare out at Lake Erie haze.

I press my face against the window and feel cobwebs on the side of my head but don’t pull back. If I listen close I can hear cars blowing past on the road about a hundred yards away.

I listen for Curtis over the drone of the radio—I do it without thinking. Then I see the groundhogs through the window and start peeling apples for them.

I do it like I breathe or walk to the sink to get a glass of water.

Automatic.

It starts to rain, and I watch like the photographer did on that burning hot summer day, while rain streaks every inch of the window.

© 2010 Angela Johnson

Meet the Author

Angela Johnson has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels The First Part Last, Heaven, and Toning the Sweep. The First Part Last was also the recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award. She is also the author of the novels Looking for Red and A Certain October. Her books for younger readers include the Coretta Scott King Honor Book When I Am Old with You, illustrated by David Soman; Wind Flyers and I Dream of Trains, both illustrated by Loren Long; and Lottie Paris Lives Here and its sequel Lottie Paris and the Best Place, both illustrated by Scott M. Fischer. Additional picture books include A Sweet Smell of Roses, Just Like Josh Gibson, The Day Ray Got Away, and All Different Now. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio. Visit her at AJohnsonAuthor.com.

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Sweet, Hereafter 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PortraitWords More than 1 year ago
Though I’ve read the two previous novels in the Heaven trilogy, Sweet, Hereafter works perfectly well as a standalone (as do Heaven, and The First Part Last). “Sweet” is just as poetic and real as any Angela Johnson novel, from behaviors and reactions of the characters, to their idiosyncrasies and emotions. The inclusion of Marley, and Bobby and Feather is a nice touch, something more for the fans than anything else. Shoogy’s story is no doubt touching, and readers will have been moved to their core by the final line in Sweet, Hereafter. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago