cover image Heaven Is Paved with Oreos

Heaven Is Paved with Oreos

Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-547-62538-6

Murdock returns to Red Bend, Wis., the setting of Dairy Queen and its sequels, with this mild romance/family drama that skews to a younger audience. Sarah Zorn, 14, has been best friends with Curtis Schwenk (the younger brother of Dairy Queen’s D.J. Schwenk) since seventh grade, when they started “fake-going-out” to dispel ongoing comments about their friendship. The summer before Sarah and Curtis start high school, their relationship is in flux. Amid this confusion, Sarah’s hippie-holdover grandmother, Z, whisks her away for a week in Italy, without revealing the real reason for the trip, which involves a fling Z had 40-some years earlier. Sarah tells the story in journal format in a voice that can be oddly young: she describes herself as “not a hair-caring kind of girl” and wonders whether she “boy-likes” Curtis. Sarah’s grandmother is funny and flawed, but her adult concerns overwhelm the plot, and the nature of their Roman holiday—a tour of seven of the city’s most important churches—might make this a tough sell to the intended readership. Ages 10–14. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Sept.)