Lara's Reviews > The Weight of Heaven

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
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's review
Apr 20, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: for-harper-collins
Read in April, 2009

I am in awe of Thrity Umrigar. I enjoyed her previous book, The Space Between Us, but The Weight of Heaven positively blew me away. Even though this book drips with sadness and grief and made me want to throw it against the wall toward the end, I still give this one five stars because...well, WOW.

When I read, I like to flip up the bottom corner of pages where there are passages, phrases, ideas that I like or that impress me in some way or that make me want to talk about them. If you look at my copy of this book, practically every other page is dogged like this. From Ellie's realization of the inanity in saying "Have a nice day" (p. 21) to perfectly illustrative phrases like, "Her hands shook like birds in a rainstorm" (p. 234) , The Weight of Heaven makes me wish my book club were talking about this book RIGHT NOW.

So, what's it about? It is the story of an American couple (Ellie and Frank) whose 7-year-old son has died, leaving them crippled with grief. (And the grief, oh my god, the GRIEF. If you read this book, do not attempt to read it on your commuter train, or you will find yourself fighting tears at 8:00 a.m., surrounded by strangers.) Actually, I'm not sure I could read this if I had kids. I don't know if my heart could take it. Anyway, Frank's company offers him a position managing the company's India office, and he and Ellie decide to go. Frank's business is more complicated than he thought when he took the job, with clashing cultural and economic ideas between himself (and his counterparts back in America) and the impoverished workforce and local residents - a situation that makes him hate India and everything about it; whereas Ellie finds friendship and fulfillment in volunteering in the community and feels precisely the opposite. As all of this is playing out, they (and, particularly, Frank) take an interest in their housekeepers' young son, which adds a new layer of cultural and economic tension to their lives and to their marriage.

The Weight of Heaven is well-written and fascinating and impossible to put down. Downright excellent, actually.

**PS - I forgot two things. (1) I think a lot of you will hate the ending; and (2) This book reminded me of this one class that I took in college that was supposed to be a contemporary literature class but instead was taught by a dude who should have named it "dystopian literature" - except instead of it being a true dystopia, it would be like a marital version of dystopia. I'm not sure I'm making any sense, but I thought it might be relevant enough to repeat here.
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Reading Progress

04/15/2009 page 150
41.1% "I am loving this. I considered intentionally missing my train stop so I could keep reading this morning."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Marty I flip up the bottom of the pages too :)

RuthAnn This one's on my nightstand! I'm so glad you liked it!

message 3: by Deb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb I didn't like the ending, you're right. But I couldn't put the book down and thought it was an amazing story!

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