Heaven is rays of sunlight dancing slowly on wheat stalks. It's wind twirling itself around chimes hung from low tree branches, and robust bursts of scent and color, far beyond anything describable with words.
Heaven is a flightless crow, a promise of forever tied to a necklace, and hidden love letters tucked away safely inside a tree.
Heaven is a fire-haired boy named Rust and his love for Ancel, a boy full of storm clouds.
Heaven is all the tiny threads of hope that hold them together.
Confession time. People often talk about books being poetic, then I read them and all that comes to mind is flowery and possibly that the author is trying a bit too hard. (Yes, I'm looking at you, "Waiting for the Flood.")
But after reading this short book, yes, I must agree that poetic doesn't begin to cover the writing. From start to finish, the book was sheer poetry at its best. The words just flowed. Simply beautiful.
I do admit though, that I didn't get a true sense of the story from reading previous reviews or the blurb.
In those that I'd read, it seemed as though Ancel was possibly a wandering soul (an old friend of mine from the UK called it "itchy feet,") someone who had to find his way, while weaving his way in and out of Rust's life.
Instead, what I found to be true was that Ancel was tethered to his abusive father, who would simply up and move on a moment's notice, uprooting young Ancel in the process.
So, no, Ancel only consciously 'chose' to leave Rust once, when in their early twenties. Not that Rust's heartache was any less, regardless of the reason for Ancel's departure.
Another misconception that I had as I began reading was that Rust and Ancel had been in an actual relationship over the course of the story. They had not.
What they did have was a soul-deep connection from the first moment that they met in a field between their two houses when, I think, they were beginning high school. (The timeline is vague as to their ages at that time, but my guess would be around puberty, so 13-14'ish.)
Ancel's father moves him away, but returns when Rust is 16, with Ancel still feeling drawn to Rust. Then after sticking up for Rust against bullies (Ancel's friends,) they share a beautiful moment and a kiss in the field.
“What are you doing out here? You’re going to be struck by lightning.”Followed again by Ancel's abrupt, immediate departure, but it's his father who's running away. Not Ancel.
“Ancel.” When he said my name, it sounded like a secret, something spoken in hushed hymns from an ancient book about dreams. His eyes bore into my own when he said, “I already have been.”
I closed the space between us. My fingers easily slipped into his hair to keep me rooted to the earth. And then I kissed him, and suddenly the world was clear.
Rust tasted like sweet cherry ice cream and rain water. He said my name in between breaths, and I knew each time our lips touched again, that breathing was a waste of air.
Fast forward almost 6 years and, on the eve of Rust's departure from the art school in the city to return to his hometown, Heaven, the two cross paths at a party and their pent-up longing is finally consummated.
“It struck me too, Rust.”The morning after is the one and only time when Ancel consciously chooses to leave Rust, with only a short note in his wake.
“What did?” I asked, my voice unsteady.
Rust,This leaves Rust devastated for years after his return to Heaven. Eight long years, to be precise.
Heaven isn’t enough.
The finale of the book is both touching and amazing, as Rust discovers letters from Ancel hidden in the same hole in the tree where Rust would stuff letters containing his most private thoughts from the time he was a young child.
Between the letters, a gifted necklace containing a piece of Rust's very soul and the sheer longing between these characters, several times I found myself holding my breath due to the emotions held in the author's captivating words.
For so few pages, Rust's character is very well-defined and his emotions spill onto the page almost like blood from his veins. It's extremely touching to see such a joyous soul so deeply affected by a boy he barely knows.
Ancel's character is less well-defined; however, I believe that was probably to add to his air of mystery, but I did still get a very good sense of who he was and felt deeply for his situation.
This book is both short and *FREE*, but I have to admit, few lengthier books that I've actually bought have I found as impactful as this one.
I know many of us tend to toss the word "amazing" around like candy on Halloween at times, but that's the only single word description that comes to mind for this extremely touching story.
Since it's free, there really is no reason to not pick up this highly-recommended 5 *necklace-and-broken-wings* stars book.
This was my own free copy of the book and not provided by the publisher.
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