Between Heaven and Here

Susan Straight. McSweeney's, $22 (240p) ISBN 978-1-936365-75-3
The mysterious murder of a hooker kicks off this exquisitely wrought final installment (after Take One Candle Light a Room) of Straight's trilogy, set in fictional Rio Seco, California. When Glorette Picard's longtime admirer, Sidney, discovers her body in a shopping cart in an alley behind a taquería, he fears the wrath or indifference of the police, and so claims her corpse as his responsibility, setting of a storm of consequences. Left behind to weather the world on his own is Glorette's young son, Victor, who memorizes SAT vocabulary words to drown out the crack dealers, and her uncle Enrique, who takes it upon himself to avenge her death. Straight plunges readers into a whirlwind of dialects, drugs, derelict homes, and delinquent locals as she weaves together the story of Glorette's life and death, while addressing weighty and timely issues like race, language, and the socioeconomically disenfranchised. Straight deftly avoids clichés and easy outs, and her refusal to vilify or sanctify the numerous members of her cast allows the experiences of each to resonate powerfully. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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