#Book ⛎ Sweet, Hereafter ⛅ eBook or E-pub free

It’s interesting that this book reportedly took the author years to write, because it actually gave off the opposite vibe for me. It seemed kind of rushed! It was almost like a stream of consciousness, single sitting writing assignment. There were definitely parts of the book that I liked, but it went off the rails and became overly dramatic/unbelievable in the end. Summary: Shoogie moves out of her family home and into a cabin in the woods with a former soldier. They share a sweet but tenuous connection until tragedy intervenes.

Verdict: Confusion.

Yay!: The book is short and easy to read, which makes it great for reluctant or slow readers, but also deep, which gives it broader appeal. Dreamy prose and a pareddown plot let Shoogie's emotion float to the surface. Johnson's writing shines.

Nay!: I haven't read all three books in the Heaven trilogy. Apparently Shoogie is the friend of an earlier heroine, and if you haven't read that book, you've missed a lot of her backstory. I felt a little confused. I understood that she left home because she felt out of place, but that part of her story wasn't developed much here. I never felt connected to either of the main characters, perhaps because their relationship was so new and neither felt chatty.

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However, about twothirds into the book, it changes. The timeline becomes linear, so I was able to figure out what was happening, and the plot finally becomes clear, the plot described on the inside cover flap that I'd been waiting for the entire book. The emotions are real and tangible, and readers finally start to connect to Sweet and her situation. I hated the ending, though. I thought that it could have been handled differently so it didn't create such a flop of a resolution.


Warnings (on a scale of 15):

Language: 3 This book is written in first person, and Sweet, the narrator, uses a good amount of language for no real reason. Shoogy has left her parent's cold and constricting home to live with Curtis. The two find kindred spirits in each other. While Shoogy deals with the baggage her parents have given her, Curtis copes with life after being in Iraq.

I wasn't as connected to this book as I was to the others in the series. I felt that more could have been developed and added to story. I found myself confused by parts of the story because Shoogy seemed to be an unreliable narrator...though really she wasn't. The words were beautiful and there was potential to this story, but it didn't knock it out of the park like the others, for me. Angela Johnson has an amazing ability to fill very short descriptive phrases or words with a huge amount of feeling and to imply plot with clarity and brevity. Her writing is amazing, and how it works is elusiveat least to me. Sweet moves out of her family's home and goes to live with Curtis, a former neighbor, and an Army reservist, who has served in Iraq, and who now lives in a small cabin in the woods. Sweet doesn't know Curtis very well, and he doesn't talk much, but living with him, she begins to know him better, and she is sure that she belongs with him. There is a feeling of loneliness that pervades this book, even when Sweet tells of times she spends with Curtis or with good friends, and maybe it should be a kind of foreshadowing, but the ending is still heartbreaking and was (to me) unexpected. Had to read this for some work, and it just wasn't my style. Too short and abstract, which left the characters feeling flat. Maybe it didn't help that I haven't read the first two books in the trilogy.

I get what Johnson was trying to do, and I appreciate this as a story about the aftermath of war. But none of the characters were memorable to me, and Sweet's whole story revolved around Curtis so I don't feel she really made a good protagonist.

2/5 stars. We met Sweet in the first book of the Heaven trilogy. There we learned how little she felt she fit into her family. In this story she has moved away from her family. She is living with a veteran, Curtis. She still is uncomfortable with her own family.

We learn how Curtis deals with the possibility of his returning to war and how it impacts their lives. I heard Angela Johnson speak recently. She said this book took her five years and she didn't want to write it in the first place. Heaven was intended as a standalone; she got talked into The First Part Last and this, Shoogie's story, andwhile far be it from me to secondguess the author's impulsesI'm glad she did. Sweet, Hereafter certainly doesn't read like it took a long time to write. Johnson's writing is felicitous as always. But it takes a darker turn than the first two books. Shoogie, Marley's somewhat edgy and simmering friend from Heaven, moves out of the home where she has never felt at home, and into a cabin in the woods with a quiet exsoldier named Curtis. There she finds the closest to happiness she's known, until the ugliness of war reaches clear from Iraq to Heaven, Ohio and shakes everything.
I encourage readers to read all 3 books in the unplanned Heaven trilogy, right in a row (the three of them together total less than 400 pages) but slowly, slowly. They can certainly each stand alone, but Sweet, Hereafter is quite different from the other two, so that I'm not sure I'd recommend it to a reader who loved The First Part Last if it weren't part of the same series! Oh, but just read them all. Sweet, Hereafter is about A high schooler named Shoogy who lives in a small town called Heaven. She lives with her parents and brothers. She is unhappy because she thinks they do not understand her. She couldn't talk to them and didn't find any reason to stay there. Curtis who is another main character is an Iraq veteran. He allows Shoogy to move in with him and she feels she can trust and depend on him. He is a lot like her because he likes to be alone and likes the quiet in the woods. She left home to move in with Curtis in a shack in the woods. Curtis loved the woods and the shack. He felt he had lost this kind of life because of his experience in Iraq. After she left home, no one came to look for her. This made her feel very bad, but it proved to her that they didn't care about her. Life with Curtis was good. Shoogy went to school and work. Curtis was very quiet, but they understood each other and got along. Sometimes the quiet bothered her but Curtis had a lot of books and she would read. Curtis did not talk much, but he did tell her he would probably have to go back to Iraq. He used to have nightmares about what happened in Iraq. They never discussed the nightmares, but she knew it bothered him. He did tell her that he would probably have to go back to Iraq, but did not want to. He eventually went AWOL because he could not bring himself to go back. The internal conflict Shoogy had was whether she should go back home or not. There were times when she would drive past her home, but not stop. She missed her family, but had mixed feelings about going back. One day she received a letter from her mother that shocked her. The mother said how much she missed her and did not want her to leave. The mother said she knew she could not continue to hold on to her. She admitted that she never really never let go. She knew where she lived, that she was in school and working. She would watched her from a distance. She told her she loved her and that her father said she should make her come home. Her mother felt she could not do that because Shoogy felt she had to leave. She wanted her to know that she loved her and she would always be in her heart. This letter made Shoogy feel very unsure about her decision to leave home. She didn't know how her family really felt about her. This letter caused an internal conflict for her. One day when she came home, Curtis was gone. She looked for him in the woods, but couldn't find him. When she couldn't find him, she realized that he was not coming back. She felt very bad but realized that Curtis had given her a safe place, but that he no longer felt safe. She then understood that you could be gone in an instant, and that the only thing left were memories of what that person meant to you. The texttoworld connection in this story is that today that when some soldiers come back from the Army, they have difficulty adjusting. Because of what they have experienced in the war, some will volunteer to help others who are feeling like Shoogy. They give them advice about how to handle certain situations so their lives can be better. However, for some of them, they have not learned how to handle their own problems. His way of life had been destroyed and he could not bring himself to go back to Iraq. I rated this book a three because I don't understand why she left her safe haven (home) to go to the unknown.