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All We Know of Heaven

All We Know of Heaven

3.9 17
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

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Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley have been BFFs since forever. Then a brief moment of inattention on an icy road leaves one girl dead and the other in a coma, battered beyond recognition. Family and friends mourn one friend's loss and pray for the other's recovery. Then the doctors discover they have made a terrible mistake. The girl who lived is the one who


Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley have been BFFs since forever. Then a brief moment of inattention on an icy road leaves one girl dead and the other in a coma, battered beyond recognition. Family and friends mourn one friend's loss and pray for the other's recovery. Then the doctors discover they have made a terrible mistake. The girl who lived is the one who everyone thought had died.

Based on a true case of mistaken identity, All We Know of Heaven is a universal story that no one can read unmoved: a drama of ordinary people caught up in an unimaginable tragedy and of the healing power of hope and love.

Editorial Reviews

ALA Booklist
“Give this to readers…they’ll relish the specifics and be caught by the tabloid drama”
Publishers Weekly

Riveting, compassionate and psychologically nuanced, Mitchard's (Now You See Her) second YA novel reimagines the macabre true story that is also the subject of the current bestselling memoir Mistaken Identity(reviewed online). She brings to her treatment an emotional depth that balances the sensational plot: after a car crash, a 16-year-old lies in a coma, wondering at first if she is dead; meanwhile, friends and family bury the girl's best friend, a victim of the same accident. Weeks pass before the girl emerges from the coma and begins trying to say her name-and before various inconsistencies alert the hospital staff that the girls have been misidentified. Both major and minor characters move through this novel with their histories succinctly evoked: readers will understand how each arrives at this shocking moment, and they will marvel at the acuity with which Mitchard moves them forward. As the survivor, Maureen, recovers-incompletely, as she is left with brain injuries-she struggles to redefine herself in the wake of powerful mixed reactions from her small-town community, including both sets of parents, reactions that intensify as she and her late friend's boyfriend explore previously submerged feelings for each other. Utterly gripping, and far more compelling than the factual version. Ages 12-up. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Abbey Fernandez
Best friends Bridget and Maureen have grown up together and also look like they could be twins. They have spent every moment together since the age of five and are happiest when cheerleading and spending time together. The two girls are tragically separated when they are on their way to cheerleading practice in the middle of winter and get into a head-on collision with a semi-truck. Maureen is killed instantly, Bridget is injured beyond recognition and the accident leaves her in a coma for weeks. A dental examination administered after Bridget wakes up reveals that the families have mourned the death of the wrong girl; in fact, it is Maureen who is alive and Bridget who is dead. Once she wakes up from the coma, Maureen must learn how to do everything again, from learning how to speak, to walking on her own. Not only that, but she must also live without her best friend and face Bridget's family even though they blame her for the loss of their daughter. This novel, based on a true story, highlights an unimaginable tragedy and tells the story of Maureen's struggles through her recovery while she copes with life without her best friend and lives in a community that has already accepted her death. National bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard does a wonderful job of showing the stages of the grieving process when one loses someone close to them and makes the stages real to the reader. Mitchard also provides the first-hand accounts of the community members involved in the tragedy to give readers a lasting impression of what happens when tragedy strikes. Reviewer: Abbey Fernandez
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
The second YA novel from best-selling author Mitchard will keep YAs reading, that's for sure. She bases this unusual plot on an actual situation: when two adolescent girls are pulled from a car wreck, terribly bruised and in comas, there is a mistake about their identities. Thus, the girl who dies is mourned by one family; the girl who lingers in a coma is cared for by the other family. When weeks later the girl in the coma starts to recover, she makes it clear who she is. The family who have been in deep mourning now are ecstatic; the family who have been at her bedside now are stricken with unbelievable grief, knowing the girl buried is their own lost daughter. The girls were best friends and so as Maureen starts recovering, she is devastated by the death of Bridget. And there is a boyfriend, Danny, who loved Bridget so much, sitting by the comatose Maureen for weeks, thinking it was Bridget. As Maureen starts to recover, enduring long, hard rehabilitation, it is Danny who stays by her side. The emotional fallout from a traumatic event is what makes this novel so riveting: grief, anger, love—shifting in each individual: parents, friends, siblings. The story continues for more than a year, as Maureen literally finds her voice, starting to sing and perform. Her feelings for Danny, and his for her, are complex, and Mitchard handles the nuances brilliantly. Danny and Bridget had been lovers, and eventually Danny and Maureen become lovers; also there is some swearing here and there, so libraries in middle schools might need to carefully consider purchase. However, high school libraries and public library YA collections will find a winner here. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up- When two friends are in a car accident, one is killed and the other horribly injured and left in a coma. The girls are misidentified, and it's Bridget's parents and boyfriend who sit by the bedside waiting for her to awaken, while Maureen is actually the one alive. When Maureen awakens, it becomes apparent that a funeral was held for the wrong teen. The family of the one who survived is understandably overjoyed, but Bridget's is thrown into chaos. In addition to relearning to walk, speak, and even think properly, Maureen has to deal with the guilt of hurting Bridget's family, the loss of her best friend, and her emerging feelings for Bridget's boyfriend. Mitchard's novel was inspired by a recent national headline, though she changed several of the details. One of the author's strengths is how she moves between the points of view of all of her characters, clearly illustrating the different emotions of the people in the town. She doesn't shy away, either, from the reality of recovering from a brain injury. It is clear that Maureen will never have the same abilities she once did. The romantic relationship between her and Danny seems unrealistic, but it adds an element of normalcy to a story that could otherwise be too tragic and heavy. Girls who love to read melodrama and tragedy will enjoy this novel.-Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Mitchard tugs at readers' hearts with a teen novel about death, a stunning miracle and love lost then gained. Best friends Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley are in a horrific car crash. One of the girls is dead. The O'Malley family is told it was Maureen and they bury their "daughter." The other girl lingers in a life-threatening coma and is thought to be Bridget. Because they had the same height and hair color, hospital workers have innocently switched the victims' identities. When the actual Maureen emerges from her coma six weeks later, grief and joy explode for both families. Patterned after the true 2006 incident of Whitney Cerak and Laura VanRyn, Mitchard's work has the markings of a page-turning tear-jerker. However, after a riveting opening 80 pages, the story begins to flatline. Too much of the novel's plot is spent on Bridget's former boyfriend, Danny Carmody, who switches his interest from a dead to a living girl by dating Maureen. The depiction of two families dealing with survivor guilt is this story's strength. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

All We Know of Heaven PLM

Chapter One

the first valentine's day

Once she understood that she was dead, her first thought was that heaven was overrated.

Perhaps she wasn't in heaven but in purgatory, sort of heaven's mudroom. Either way, everything her grandmother and Father Genovese had taught her was a lie.

There were no streets of gold or a cappella singing, no elderly ancestors like little apple dolls gathered to welcome her, no mountain sunsets—not even Disney World without lines.

But it took such a long time to think of this that it made her wonder if she was alive—or if maybe being dead took getting used to, like cold water or the dentist.

At first she could only think of the place where she was as PUH.

And even for that she had to sort of scale her way up her thoughts, as if thinking was a climbing rope in the gym.








No! Nononono. No. Start over.


Pie story.

Pug hug.

Piggy hug.


It took her many times, as long as a carpet unrolling forever, to think of the word for... purgatory. Trying to wiggle into her own mind wore her out. She couldn't even find the door.

And being an angel was supposed to be easy compared with life. But did angels think? Maybe she wasn't an angel.

Maybe what she'd done with Danny had disqualified her.

Maybe only ghosts had these kinds of issues.

How was it possible that she could think of words such as "disqualified" and "issues" but not ordinary words—and sheknew that there were words—for the "lights" and "darks"? How could she remember Danny but not, half the time, her own name?

Her mind was like her grandmother's refrigerator: a jumble of little things, some moldy beyond recognition but still frugally saved—two brown coins of banana, a few spoonfuls of rice—all in little plastic-wrapped squares. And she couldn't open the stuck-together little squares. She couldn't get them unstuck any more than she could open her eyes. She couldn't get her eyes to open, not even for a second.

She wasn't sad.

You weren't supposed to be sad at your death. But she wasn't joyous either.

Where was the bliss?

When they were tiny, adults called them the Pigtail Pals, as if they were a brand of doll. When they were bigger, they called them the Dyno Mites, as if they were a stomp team. Always together—two elfin blond things, tiny but shockingly strong (Bridget could walk up thirteen stairs on her hands by the time she was eight). They took Tumbleweeds together at the Y and after that headed off to cheerleading classes and camp, even though at their school it was the pom girls who had been revered as sex goddesses and the cheerleaders treated basically like scum. But now that they were sophomores there were cheerleading movies (and no pom-pom movies!); plus, the cheerleaders had the best bodies of anyone, thighs with strips of long, lean muscle that amazed even the girls themselves when they stood in front of a mirror in underpants.

Sometimes it seemed worth it.

As they had grown older—at least according to Maureen's older brother Jack—they resembled each other even more. Sometimes they bought the same clothes in different colors, if Maureen could afford them. If Maureen couldn't, sometimes Bridget bought the clothes for both of them. On sale, but still.

They loved being seen as a pair.

Bridget and Maureen took pride in the marks on the Flannery garage door that showed, year after year, that they were exactly the same height—not one half inch taller or shorter. They had the same huge, almond-slanted gold-flecked green eyes; and they could charm anyone—usually out of anything. Well, Bridget was the one who did the charming, which was what Maureen both loved and feared about her.

"My older sister was a Girl Scout," Bridget once told the lady who sold Girl Scout cookies outside the Shop-and-Save. "She's in the... in an insane hospital now, and she can't be a Girl Scout anymore. She still wears her outfit and her badges and pretends she is. She used to sell cookies."

Bridget didn't even have an older sister.

But her earnest sweetness as she lied was always good for a free box of Thin Mints. Somehow the lady at the Shop-and-Save never compared notes with the ladies at the Bigelow Bank or the Coffee Clutch.

"Where did you get all those cookies?" Maureen's mother had asked, when Maureen came home with a box stuffed nonchalantly inside her hoodie.

"Ladies gave us boxes of them," Maury had told her honestly.

"You're not supposed to take things from strangers!" her mother snapped, examining the boxes as if they might contain razor blades or arsenic.

"They weren't strangers," Maury said. "It was Mrs. Hotchkiss and the lunch lady at Henry's school, Miss Bliss. They were sitting inside the bank."

"Why'd they give them to you for free?"

"They like us," Maury said.

That was a fact.

It was only one of the privileges of being Bridget's friend, as Bridget explained solemnly. By the time she was six she had understood the meaning of "privilege." She knew it was good to be her. She understood her own charisma.

You didn't dare to say no to Bridget—not if you wanted to stay friends with her.

And you did want to stay her friend.

Everyone did.

She picked up friendships the way tape picked up lint from a sweater—effortlessly, easily, and with about as much passion. Friends were a delight to Bridget but—with the exception of Maury—readily interchangeable. Maureen was proud to be the first friend Bridget collected when she came to Bigelow and the one she had kept. Aside from Maury, Bridget took you as a BFF for two weeks, gave you the whole Bridget treatment—the pool, gymnastics on the huge tramp, b-ball and tennis on the sport courts—but most of her best friends didn't last a semester, let alone forever.

All We Know of Heaven PLM. Copyright © by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

New York Times bestseller Jacquelyn Mitchard's novels include The Deep End of the Ocean, Twelve Times Blessed, and The Breakdown Lane. She is also the author of The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship, a collection of her newspaper columns. She lives with her husband and six children in Madison, Wisconsin.

Brief Biography

Madison, Wisconsin
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A. in English, Rockford College, 1973

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All We Know of Heaven 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so touching and heartfelt. I could not put it down until the end. I felt as though it was cut a bit short but overall, not a hard read with a great message!
Caley Lookingbill More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Its based on a true story and really hooked me from the first chapter. But it is a sad book so if youre not into that i wouldnt get it. Definatley worth it.
Sabrina Sutton More than 1 year ago
it can be confusing at times but still awesome
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
I have read and reviewed many books over the past two years that have impressed me. I have read only a handful, however, that have touched me as deeply as ALL WE KNOW OF HEAVEN. This is a book that's hard to describe in detail, due mainly to the fact that I don't want to give too much of the story away. Suffice it to say, however, that it's a story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

Two girls, Bridget and Maureen, who are so similar and yet so different at the same time. They have nearly identical body shapes, have the same colored hair and eyes, and even share many of the same mannerisms and characteristics. They've been best friends for several years, and yet there's a part of Maureen that understands that Bridget considers her to be her friend out of convenience, and for what she can provide for her.

Then there is an accident, a deadly one, and the lives of two girls and their families are forever changed. One girl dies, one girl lives. One family buries their daughter, one rejoices and yet fears over the fact that their daughter, now forever changed, lies unconscious and unknowing in a hospitable bed. Yet through it all, interspersed throughout the pages of the story, are the tangled thoughts of a young woman, who is unable to grasp even the simplest words and put them to the images she sees, yet who understands the concept that she's not the girl everyone seems to think she is.

The wrong daughter buried, the wrong family rejoicing. Fear, regret, heartbreak, happiness, hope -- and with it all, through it all, tinged by it all, lies guilt. Guilt that one girl survived, and one didn't. Guilt that one mother once hoped her daughter might die, to spare them all the pain of a long recovery. Guilt that one family's prayers seemed to be answered, and another's joy was cut short.

Guilt that one girl is not the other, could never be the other, and yet seems to be stepping into the life that girl left behind.

Jacquelyn Mitchard can write. She writes so well, in fact, that the reader is unable to step outside of the story of Maureen and Bridget once they've begun reading it. You can feel the pain, the happiness, the sorrow. You understand, and you grieve, and you rejoice, right along with the characters of ALL WE KNOW OF HEAVEN. This is a story you won't soon forget -- nor will you want to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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ree_ree More than 1 year ago
constant download error please help
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
writer_gril_reads More than 1 year ago
I have read this book several times and have loved it all the way through. It isn't a book you can read while watching television, but it is very well written. Full of drama that is normal for teenagers. Also includes feelings that most humans never experience in their lives. It is a touching true story about friendship and tragedy. A tale of mistaken identity that takes a more tragic turn than expected. Somewhat confusing at points, but it really grabs your attention and focus. It touches the soul in a way that is hard through plain text. So vividly written that the pictures come to life in your mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wasnt what I thought it would be. It was better. I thought it was just going to be about one of the girls recovering from the accident but it went farther than that. It went into her life after the accident and her challenges. It was very good and recomend it.
AshleyPr More than 1 year ago
All We Know of Heaven is by Jacquelyn Mitchard, and it's about Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley who have been best friends forever. They have the same hair color, eye color, and they even act the same, personality wise. When the two girls are on the way to cheerleading one day, they end up on an icy road and spin out of control causing a terrible wreck. At the scene Maureen is pronounced dead, and Bridget is in serious condition. For a few weeks she is in a coma, and her parents are hoping and praying she wakes up. Maureen has a big funeral and is sadly buried. Then, just a little while after Maureen's funeral, Bridget wakes up and starts muttering words that sound like, "Mama". A dental surgeon comes in to run scans on Bridget's teeth to see how badly they have been damaged. He finds out that Bridget has four canines removed, and the person in the chart hasn't. The nurses decide he must have the wrong records. The girl that was Bridget had had braces, Bridget hadn't. It was the wrong girl; it was Maureen. They ran blood tests a few days later and found out the doctors were wrong. This was Maureen O'Malley; they had made a terrible mistake. Bridget and Maureen's parents were told the great and yet horrible news. Also, Bridget's boyfriend and Maureen's best friend, Danny, was told. He didn't know what to think. This story stirs up a lot of drama and sadness with the Flannery's towards the O'Malley's. I won't spoil the ending by saying what happens after Maureen wakes up and begins to talk. I think this book is a great story about relationships lost and begun. I felt while reading this book that it was heart breaking and touching at the same time. I recommend it to anyone that wants to read a story about friendship and love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is probably my all time favorite book. And I've read a lot of really amazing books. This novel perfectly portrays the greif, sorrow, and confusion that follow the death of a loved one as well as what anyone would do if a mix-up like that were to happen. I loved the romance of Danny and Maureen, how they continued to be with each other no matter what anyone said about her holding him back, or how horrible they were for doing this after Bridgett's death. Overall, an amazing read!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading All We Know of Heaven. It had a great story line that kept you interested for the entirety of the book. There were was a lot of unexpected twist that made for a great deal of suspense. However, I did feel the author kept the romance between Maureen and Danny going a little too long. By about the third chapter of their love I was starting to get sick of their relationship. However the author did a exceptional job at giving you a clear view of the characters. Most if not all of the characters were relatable and likable in a since. And the theme of the story was very clear and uplifting. I really enjoyed reading All We Know of Heaven and would recommend it to all of my friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jacquelyn Mitchard knows how to write. She writes in such a way that you get so absorbed in the book that you feel like you are in the book. Her latest book, All We Know of Heaven is a young adult book is not exception. I first heard about this book a few months ago, combed the bookstores looking for it and bugged the local libraries until I finally got the book in my hand. It was worth the wait. The book, a work of fiction is based on an incident of mistaken identity after a horrific car accident. This is book that you can¿t put down and the story will stick with you for a long time even after the last pages have been read. Bridget and Maureen have been best friends basically forever. They were as close to sisters as two non-related people can be. They even looked alike too and it seemed the older they got the stronger the resemblance became. They both were the exactly same height, with blond hair cut the same way and oval shaped green eyes. This actually turned out to be the basis for a horrible mistake that would destroy two families and rock the small close-knit community they lived in. It was a snowy, icy cold night and girls were on the way to a cheerleading competition. Unfortunately, they would never make it. It was a head on collision. Very quick, very deadly. One girl was killed, the other girl was left in coma struggling to survive. They were both so badly bruised and broken it was nearly impossible to tell who was who. It was Maureen¿s car that was totaled, everyone assumed Maureen was the one who died but it turns out¿. The story is about the aftermath of the accident, how the mistaken identity affects both of the families, friends and the community. The emotional fallout is evident through the gut wrenching anger, guilt, joy played out on the pages. It is the story of Maureen who comes back from the dead almost literally trying to get better and find some normalcy with a traumatic brain injury. She had to relearn everything she took for granted ¿ how to walk, talk and care for herself. It was a touching story about a girl who could¿ve given up but didn¿t. She survived and dared to thrive as a line in the book says. Mitchard paints a realistic picture of how difficult the recovery process for all parties, both emotionally and physically, really is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this from an site free and thought this was going to be a good book but it was very boring. I was unable to make it past page 60. It was a big disappointment. I don't recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a very good premise, rooted in real incident. After about 90 or so pages that were exciting and interesting, basically forward movement stops. The majority of the rest of the book focuses on an off-on relationship between Maury and Danny that is repetitive and unrealistic. The descriptions of the families dealing with this tragedy which linger in the background behind Danny and Maury's romance indicate there was a missed opportunity for a more provoking story about dealing with grief and survivor's guilt. The author started out wonderfully, but seemed to leave behind the premise - two friends who are linked so tightly and the aftermath of the death in many ways of both of them - and instead turns the story into an uninteresting and flat love story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i cried soooo much in this book! and that means it was a good book because i don't cry for nothing, u must read!