Rachel's Reviews > Welcome to Heavenly Heights: A Novel

Welcome to Heavenly Heights by Risa Miller
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's review
Jul 09, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: jewish-fiction
Read in January, 2012

By and large this book didn't speak to me much. The writing was back and forth and difficult to follow with random POV shifts in individual chapters. The characters lacked a certain sense of dimension, making it difficult to feel for them (until the very end with the terror attack that killed two young boys, but the main character had already left Israel by that point.) I think Miller bit off a little more than she could chew, and should have focused more narrowly on the MC, Tova, as a fully fleshed out POV--though I also would have been interested to learn more about Debra, who grew up in Christian rural Kentucky with only a tangential relationship to her Jewish father.

I think, by and large, Miller captured the feel she was going for--that living in Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank, is sort of like living in the wild west. Even in legal settlements like Heavenly Heights, there is an air about that the "settlers"--particularly those who choose to make aliyah from the United States--are living in a sense of lawlessness. There can be danger from Palestinian neighbors, and it's removed from the mainland with lots of barriers and soldier protections, so it can be difficult to get around or even deal with minor household repairs. I like the idea of humanizing the settlers, but this book fell a little short.

"The Ladies Auxiliary" by Tova Mirvis succeeded where this story failed in drawing several intriguing POV characters in an Orthodox community. If only it were set in the West Bank!

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