Review: All We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Publisher: Harper Teen (April 29, 2008)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Price: $13.32 from Amazon
Summary: 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.

Review: All We Know of Heaven is from the list of 2009 Black-eyed Susan Book Award Nominees, and I can definitely see why it got on there! I picked it up because the premise sounded interesting, though I usually don’t read this type of “sad” books because I hate crying. However, surprisingly, I didn’t shed a tear.
The main reason I didn’t cry is probably because of the surviving girl’s romantic interest. He apparently shows his devotion through waiting at her bedside while she’s in a coma, which was admirable, but my feelings for him quickly changed as the story progressed. It was very hard to sympathize with him as he cheated and made out with other girls, though I understand it’s probably insanely difficult to deal with a situation similar to the one in the book. Basically, I just didn’t feel that Jacquelyn Mitchard was able to prove the guy’s supposed “love” for the girl.

The book is split into three parts and the relationship mainly comes into play in the second and third sections. So while I started getting bored towards the end of the book, I did like the author’s take in the first part, when the girl is in the coma. It took a little bit getting used to, but it was interesting to see the experience of being in a coma from Mitchard’s perspective. And I could definitely tell that some medical knowledge was needed, so appreciation for research in the field here.

The ending felt unreal. Yes, it was the happily-ever-after, but there wasn’t exactly a lot leading up to it. I still liked the author’s investigation of love, hope, loss, and determination; the ending just threw me off a bit.

Bottom Line: All We Know of Heaven is a good book that explores teen love, the struggle to overcome hardships, and how people deal with loss of loved ones and things they take for granted. Admittedly, I had some trouble connecting with the main girl’s love interest and their relationship seemed sort of unrealistic to me, but I definitely felt and rooted for the main girl. This book offers interesting insight into humans; it was the relationship that killed it for me.