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The Weight of Heaven

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,755 ratings  ·  588 reviews
Filled with satisfyingly real characters and glowing with local color, The Weight of Heaven is a rare glimpse of a family and a country struggling under pressures beyond their control. Umrigar illuminates how slowly we recover from unforgettable loss, how easily good intentions can turn evil, and how far a person will go to build a new world for those he loves.

When Frank a
Hardcover, 365 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Harper (first published April 2nd 2009)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  3,755 ratings  ·  588 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Frank and Ellie Benton have suffered what no parents should, the loss of their 7-year-old son, Benny. When Frank is offered a chance to manage a factory in Girbaud, India, the couple leap at the opportunity to get away from the constant reminders of their loss. But Frank transfers his love for his son onto Ramesh, the engaging, bright child of the people who take care of their house. His inability to truly get past the death of his own child and his desperate attachment to this Indian boy lead t ...more
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was first introduced to Thrity Umrigar through her novel, The Space Between Us. It was one of those novels that made the author an instant favorite of mine. I knew I had to read every book she wrote. I haven't quite managed that, but it's still something I'm working on. I followed The Space Between Us up with Bombay Time and now The Weight of Heaven.

What I love most about Thrity Umrigar is her gift for drawing out the emotions of her characters. The reader gets to know them through and through
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A young American Michigan couple, Frank and Ellie, grieve the loss of their 7 year old child, Benny. The story focuses on the grieving process individually for Frank and Ellie when losing a child. After Benny dies, the couple then moves to India when Frank accepts a position there. They see it as a form of escape. Frank quickly attaches himself to Ramesh, the 9 year old child of the poor Prakash and Edna who are locals of India. Once Frank begins to overstep his boundaries as friend to father, t ...more
This novel, about a couple who loses a child and goes to India to try to reassemble their marriage, is well loved here on GR. I could barely stand to read it. Cliches ("for all the world" was used numerous times)and overwritten passages about how people were feeling cancelled out the interesting things she had to say about American multinational business and ripping off the natural resource of an Indian village. I could tell things were going to go very wrong by the end but was not expecting how ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-tlc, 2012-reads

I remember being blown away when I read Thrity's book The Space Between Us in 2010. I thought she made India come alive in my mind and as I became further engrossed in the story I could swear that I heard the sounds and the smells of the country too. That's how vivid and wonderful this author's writing is...with her sharply honed pen she draws the reader into the pages of her imagination and you find yourself not wanting to leave.

The Weight of Heaven is another masterpiece by Umrigar and even th
How does one deal with the loss of a child? I hope never to answer that question, but the main characters in this book, Frank and Ellie, are forced to address their grief when their only son, Benny, dies unexpectedly. Frank has an opportunity to move to India, and he and Ellie see this as a chance to try to heal their wounds and keep their marriage from falling apart. Their decision seems logical - a move to a completely new country where people and places will not remind them of their lost son. ...more
Alice Meloy
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
A novel of India that mixes in a bit of America in the form of a neurotic couple who can't get over their psychological problems. Having a difficult time coping with the unexpected death of their young son, Ellie and Frank Benton move from the American midwest to the west coast of India to work and to try to get over their grief. Frank forms an attachment to the nine-year old son of their servants, and his obsession with helping the boy achieve a good life (American style) leads to some life-cha ...more
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first 2/3 of this book was five stars for me. The last 1/3 was four. So I'll rate it 4.5.

The set up is very interesting. An American couple is grieving the death of their 7-year-old son. So they accept a job posting in India, where the husband, Frank, will head up a factory harvesting medicinal leaves from a local forest. They form the basis for a diabetes cure marketed in the US. The villagers have traditionally harvested the leaves themselves, and sold them as their primary form of income.
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Thrity Umrigar's The Weight of Heaven is a heavy with grief, emptiness, and struggle. The Bentons (Ellie and Frank) lose their son, Benny, at age seven from meningococcus. Ellie has liberal leanings politically and is a therapist to clients in Ann Arbor, Mich., while Frank is a proud, American business executive with residual issues of abandonment. The loss of a child can be daunting for any family, and it is clear how grief of this magnitude can slowly rip a family apart.

"And now they were two.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it
A white American couple, having lost their only son to a sudden illness, moves to India in the vague hope that a new start might help them overcome their grief. It does not go well. Or, it goes pretty well for the wife, who makes friends, gets a useful job, and finds herself a place. The husband quickly gets involved in corruption (paying bribes to the government for various benefits), scandal (when labor demands at the factory he manages lead to a strike), more extreme corruption and scandal (w ...more
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is heart wenching on many levels- first there are Frank and Ellie, who are recovering from the loss of a child; then there is the case of the American company Frank works for in India, wreaking havoc on the lives of native Indians in its typically naive American way; and lastly the Indian house servants Frank and Ellie have inherited, along with their young see where this is going? Umrigar takes the reader on this bumpy journey of love and loss, where the end in sight is inev ...more
Mary Ann
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was the last of Thrity Umrigar's novels left for me to read. I rank her with Johinton Mistry, Salmon Rushdie, and Vikram Seth. I have loved all her other stories which are so rich in beautifully drawn characters, so emblematic of the social, political, and racial contradictions inherent in post-Independence India. But this one was a disappointment. I found Frank and Ellie curiously unsympathetic as protagonists, the plot implausible, and the denoument quite unbelievable. ...more
Sayantani Dasgupta
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Brutal. Powerful. I'm a fan of Umrigar for life. My goal is to hunt down everything she has ever written and devour it like a madman. Twice. ...more
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Short of It:

An emotional story about love and loss and so much more. The Weight of Heaven demands your attention, shakes you up, then leaves you heavy with the weight of it.

The Rest of It:

This is a wonderful, meaty book. As you can imagine, the death of a child is a delicate subject. There’s something incredibly tragic about losing a child. Even when the child is gone, his memory lives on in everyday things… a stray toy found under the couch, the shoe that lost its mate some time ago, etc. A
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was better than "If Today Be Sweet" but still not as good as "The Space Between Us." What made Umrigar's first book so good was that there was so much at stake, literally life and death, survival by inches. This book a mixture of the two prevous titles, you have an American couple living in India. They are escaping the death of their son and find solace in the country and the husband, Frank begins to fixate on their housekeepers' son. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief in places ...more
I bought this book for my Kindle because it was on sale. Plain and simple - this novel sounded like it was worth $2.99. I had never read anything by Umrigar and only vaguely knew about her books. I was willing to take the risk given the price.

Well, this is the best bargain I have made in quite awhile. Ms Umrigar tells a fascinating story about how one family deals with one of the most difficult life experiences - the death of a child. The story is well written and seems possible even when it was
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I've read all of Thrity Umrigar's previous novels and found them to be extremely enjoyable and hard to put down...this one was no different. A beautiful story of what grief can do.

From back cover:

"When Frank and Ellie Benton lose their only child, seven-year-old Benny, to a sudden illness, the perfect life they had built in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is shattered. But an unexpected job half a world away offers them an opportunity to start again. Life in Girbaug, India, holds promise-and peril-when Fra
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book seriously blew me away. I finished last night at 3am and could not sleep afterward. I love Umrigar's writing style, which is so fluid and kind of poetic. Her insights into the insanity of parental grief were sharp and honest. I think Umrigar understands and translates the complexity, mystery, beauty and ugliness in dyads better than any other author I've read. This book was incredibly painful to read. And that's only considering the implications at the level of the individual character ...more
** Books 26 - 2018 **

This books to accomplish Tsundoku Books Challenge 2018

3,8 of 5 stars!

It is beautiful story about forgiving and let it go moment when your kids is passed away but you couldn't accept truth is

Acceptance is one of the hardest things to do and in the end you just know you already missing what is important things in your life actually

It is another unexpected story from Thrity Umrigar.. It is really different from her previous works that i read before The World We Found. This pie
Katherine Jones
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves a 5-star rating even though I'm not sure I liked it. In fact, I don't think I did, even though I swallowed it down in just a few big gulps. Thrity Umrigar's work is compulsively readable, with her incredibly well-drawn characters and vivid sense of place. The story is also utterly gripping, but... well, to say more would be to risk spoiling it. Not a feel-good story by any stretch, but satisfying and somehow right nonetheless. And that is Umrigar's genius. ...more
Olivia Cortese
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is not the first time I’ve stayed until the wee hours of the morning to finish a book written by Thrity Umrigar. She has solidified herself as my favorite other. She writes with honesty , transparency and with such realism it’s like a kick in the gut . The ending was a major surprise . Don’t miss this novel !
Chin Ai
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, collectibles
A good, suspenseful read and sheds so much light on cultural differences, how different people deal with grief and how difference in power and status can complicate relationships.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Thrity Umrigar in 2008, and she has since become a favorite author of mine. I felt honored to have received an advance copy of her new book: The Weight of Heaven, which is scheduled for release on April 14th, 2009, by Harper Collins.

In her new novel we meet Frank and Ellie Benton, a grief stricken couple from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who have just lost their seven year old son Benny, after a short illness. Unable to cope with this horrific loss, Frank accepts a new assignment running a
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thrity Umrigar is one of my all-time favorite novelists. Her book "The Space Between Us" is in my top ten favorite books. I love how she captures her characters' struggle to bridge two cultures, highlighting so many differences between India and the United States while also making it clear that at our core, we are more alike than different by virtue of simply being human. I also love how she explores culture in the context of various generations, crossing age groups, socio-economic class, educat ...more
Ruqaiya Said
I absolutely underestimated this book when I first purchased it on Amazon as part of some promotion they were running. It was always at the bottom of my to-read pile but it relentlessly stared at me every time I'd turn on my kindle.

So I finally picked it up last month because I was so darn bored at I needed to read something. Much to my surprise, I devoured major chunks of it every time I'd get a moment to myself. I found myself really connecting with the characters who by the way are so rich.

May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a special treat for myself, I pulled this book off my shelf, I love Thrity Umrigar's books and The Weight of Heaven turned out to be an emotional experience. I did shed some tears and also got very angry.

Frank and Ellie Benton, living in Ann Arbor, Michigan lost their only child, Benny, to meningococcal infection. Frank is a business man for a company that sells medical products and Ellie is a therapist. When their boy dies, it brings havoc to their marriage. Frank blames Ellie for taking a s
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just a week ago, I read my first Thrity Umrigar novel and loved it. (The World we Found) So, I deliberately sought out another of her books. I was not disappointed with this novel. I am kind of in awe of this author, how she can draw me into the lives of her characters and tugged on my emotions to the point that I had tears running down my face numerous times. Once when I was at the gym on a stationary bike I was reading and crying. Another time I brushed away tears at my favourite Second Cup co ...more
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Weight of Heaven is a beautifully written novel about a painful period in the life of an American couple, Frank and Ellie Benton. Frank and Ellie’s only son, seven-year old Benny, has died from meningitis. Frank was away for work during the sudden illness and he blames Ellie for Benny’s death. After Frank is offered a job in India, the two decided to take the job in Girbaug and start life anew.

While in Girbaug, Frank befriends a young boy, Ramesh that is the son of the servants at their hom
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Thrity Umrigar's latest novel The Weight of Heaven is a dramatic work exploring the effects of grief on a couple who has it all. From the opening pages when we meet Frank and Ellie, we are plunged into the grief over the loss of their son Benny. The couple are in such despair, with their marriage fraying, that they decide to move to India when Frank is offered a position running a multinational corporation there. They hope that without the constant reminders of Benny, they will be able to find e ...more
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A journalist for seventeen years, Thrity Umrigar has written for the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and other national newspapers, and contributes regularly to the Boston Globe's book pages. Thrity is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, a Lambda Literary award and the Seth Rosenberg prize. She teaches creative writing and literature at Case Western Reserve University. The author ...more

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“India, she now knew, would not be content staying in the background, was nobody's wallpaper, insisted in interjecting itself into everyone's life, meddling with it, twisting it, molding it beyond recognition. India, she had found out, was a place of political intrigue and economic corruption, a place occupied by real people with their incessantly human needs, desires, ambitions, and aspirations, and not the exotic, spiritual, mysterious entity that was a creation of the Western imagination.” 16 likes
“أتعرف ماهي القوة الأكثر خطورة في هذا العالم يا عزيزي ؟ إنها ليست القنبلة الذرية. إنه الإنسان الحرّ فعلاً. ذلك هو ما عليك الاحتراس منه” 2 likes
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