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A People's History of Heaven

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore. In this tight-knit community, five girls on the cusp of womanhood-a politically driven graffiti artist; a transgender Christian convert; a blind girl who loves to dance; and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader-forge an unbrea ...more
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Algonquin Books
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Angela M
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heaven, worlds away from the life I know, a slum in Bangalore and yes, it’s a slum called Heaven. I was expecting to find poverty and repression here, but I had no idea that I would find the joy of beautiful friendships, loyalty, love, and hope nor mothers and daughters with strength and a desire to just live their lives . Fending off the government that wants to bulldoze their homes, these women and girls exhibit strength and concern for each, especially the five young girls. Deepa who can’t se ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gloriously inspiring, lyrical and poetic debut novel from Mathangi Subramanian of an almost completely female community, of discarded women, surviving hand to mouth on a daily basis, amidst the high rises of a Bangalore indifferent to their plight. Heaven is indeed a place on earth, perhaps a suprising one, teeming with poverty, repression and oppression. But look closer, for within the impoverished community is a joy, resilence, colour and vibrancy that will charm and endear itself to ...more
A different version of Heaven…

What a strange, cool book! It takes place in a Indian slum called Heaven and tells the story of five teenage girls trying to find their place in the world. Oh god that sounds bland, when really this is the most poetic book I’ve read this year.

Well, poetic, yes, but sometimes I just liked the sound of the words strung together; it didn’t matter to me that the sentence doesn’t actually make sense.

Here’s a sample:

“Leela’s mornings are black eyes and battered limbs, bru
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Heaven is a beautiful place because of the people living inside. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

A diverse group of women are living in a slum named Heaven in Bangalore, India. Heaven is a hidden building in between other fancy, new high rises in an urban area of the city.

The community of strong women calling Heaven home are mothers and daughters “left behind” by men because of the search for a male heir. The women are destitute, not knowing where their next meal will come from. On top of that, the city regular

4.5 Stars

Heaven is a slum in Bangalore, named for the Sanskrit word left on a broken sign, the word for heaven, and it is where the stories of these families take place. There are eighteen people of note in this story, but the primary focus is on five girls on the verge of womanhood who attend the local government school.

Banu is an artist, her grandmother, her ajii, one of the original residents of Heaven; Deepa, who is visually impaired, is a dancer who doesn’t attend the s
In Bangalore, India, nestled behind a luxury high rises, lies a little bit of heaven. Yet, for most of us, this would not be considered to be heaven at all, but a place where poverty dwells, lives are crushed, and dreams and hope are non existent. And yet...
"If you're a girl in heaven, you don't get out much. Too many eyes watching you.

There are people residing in Heaven. There are young girls with dreams, with hopes. There are their mothers, their Auntys, their fathers who look to each other f
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Times today don't allow jaded jokes or malicious irony: no, today we want what feels like goodness. Things can go sour quickly we've noticed, and nothing is more certain than this in a small "slum" of Bangalore. But gee, we've traversed terrains like this before, on screen (Slumdog Millionaire) and popular lit (Animal's People); but, scratch that. It's actually nothing like that. And it comes with a bonus too: we NEED this kind of stuff!

Our modern spoiled-brat me me me and things to buy days nee
an exceptional story drenched in culture and hope!

Mathangi Subramanian has intricately woven together the threads of these five girls lives into a beautiful story. Five extraordinary girls living in a slum called Heaven in Bangalore India. Now a slum is probably the furthest thing from heaven for most of us, but I think these girls might beg to differ. Surrounded with friendship and love these girls were an impenetrable support system for one another. There was so much beauty in how uncond
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, 2019-read, usa
This book narrates the life stories of five young girls who grow up in a slum called "Heaven" in Bangalore, and while it touches upon numerous social issues, the tone remains light and playful - this is the highly accessible cousin of Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. In an attempt to reflect the diversity of the slum population, Subramanian introduces characters with different religious beliefs and family backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations as well as physical ...more
Janelle Janson
Thank you so much Algonquin for my free copy!

Thus far, I have had the most phenomenal year of reading. I am somewhat new to reading diverse books so this has been the most amazing surprise!

Set in Bangalore, India we follow in first person narrative five schoolgirls who call a slum their home. The slum is a community made up almost entirely of women who were discarded for who they are or for not being able to live up to the standards of men. It is nestled between high-rises and has a damaged sig
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, fiction, read-2019, arc
Heaven in this story is one of the thrown-together slums of Bangalore, India, a place populated with the lowest ranks of Indian life. There are some full families, with both parents and children, but more commonly there are women alone or with children and grandchildren. Sometimes primarily female children for they are the less important and less powerful in life. All girls and women enter life here with a mark against them.

When we enter Heaven, we meet a varied group of girls and their familie
Fafa's Book Corner
Mini review:


I received this E-ARC via Algonquin Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger warning: Mention of bullying. Homes being torn down.

I was really looking forward to reading this! I saw that synopsis and knew I had to request it. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me.

I really didn’t like the writing style. I’m sure it gets better. But I could barely read a paragraph.

Still recommend.
Sherwood Smith
In India, a slum called Heaven is being threatened with razing.

The local women rally to fight it. We get to know some of these women, each distinctive, but the true focus is on five girls, each with different circumstances, including one with adult-level responsibilities, a visually impaired dancer, and a trans girl.

The writing is graceful, vivid, the narration swooping into each girl in intimate space, then outward again to paint the community. The grim side of poverty and its cost are not sent
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars Thank you to BookBrowse and Algonquin Books for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Published on March 19. 2019.

A poor lowly slum in Bangalore, hidden behind the city high rises. Houses physically built from scrapes. But the homes built with love. Five families - five young girls, well almost - who fight to live in this squalor they call Heaven, as bull dozers nosily idle nearby, waiting for a chance to grind up what little they have.

This book reminds me so much of Amy Tan's Joy
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. I found that the characters were very well done; they were a very diverse group of girls who all had very individual personalities and thoughts. Each girl, while growing up and struggling in the same place, had such a different and unique story. The relationships and bonds between the friends and the mothers and daughters were very strong, loving, intense and beautiful. This story is about strength, love and survival.

I did not really enjoy the plot aspect of the book. I don't dislike
Mother-worry is a different kind of worry....

A People's History of Heaven is Mathangi Subramanian debut novel that explores a thirty year old slum called Heaven, situated in Bangalore, India that is going to be destroyed to make way for new high-rises and what the people from Heaven will do stop it. The book centers around five friends from Heaven:
Banu- a shy politically driven graffiti artist who loves building and construction, who is the glue of the group.
Joy- a transgender who became reb
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is beautifully written. The messages are uplifting and carry a sense of hopefulness.

Ok, let me pause a bit here to quickly describe the plot...something I usually do not do. The book is about five teenage young women who live in a very poor neighborhood, "Heaven," as bulldozers threaten to clear the homes they know. The women confront oppressive, patriarchal situations and impoverished circumstances. But the story is NOT "poverty porn." Instead, these women are strong and rich in thei
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming and poignant novel set in BANGALORE

“In Bangalore, there is always someone worse off than you”

It was serendipity. I had made plans to travel to South India, arriving in Bangalore (which is also known as Bengaluru, take your pick) and I was asked to review a novel set there. Perfect timing.

The story is about 5 young girls who are living in Heaven, which it certainly isn’t. It is a slum just off the Old Airport Road, sandwiched between buildings that are flagships for enterprise and repres
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so enjoy when a story drags me to where they want me to be as these five fearsome girls sneak their way into your heart. Raised in a Bangalore slum, each character gets to provide their backstory that centers around lives defined around by femaleness and class structure as they fight for their future, adventures, and just to be. The unnamed first person plural narrative voice showcases the ingenuity and solidarity of the characters in the unconditional acceptance of each other and each just wa ...more
Paige Green
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: A People’s History of Heaven

Author: Mathangi Subramanian

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: LGBT and POC friendly book. Transgender main, Blind rep main, and many different beliefs.

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 16+ (some violence and slightly mature scenes)

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Pages: 304

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden betwe
Read my spoiler-free review and more about the book on my blog, illbefinealone reads.

A People’s History of Heaven is a one of a kind book.
It has a wonderful cast of characters that are well-developed and intriguing, and they are masterfully executed as they jump off the page and grab onto your attention. The story is heartwarming, in the end it left me feeling like I’ve experienced something I never will again.
The book is written beautifully, the style felt fresh and it flowed really well. The b
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book felt one note to me. Every chapter was basically about the same thing, and there were too many characters to follow. I really enjoyed it in the beginning because the prose was quite beautiful at times; but I slowly stopped caring when I realized all the characters' stories were quite simplistic.

And again I have this criticism: why, oh why, does every recent book need to include a trans character? Most of the depictions are unrealistic and not explored, and it really just seems like th
Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader
While this book isn't young adult, I do think it will appeal to YA readers.  We do read a lot about the adult's history, but I feel like the book really focused on the young girls.  

There are a lot of characters in this book.  I mean a lot.  At times, it was hard to remember who each one was, but there is a guide in the book.  I was reading the earc, so I wasn't able to just flip back and forth.  But I would have done that with a physical book and it would have made a big difference.

Each chapter
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, giveaways
I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway; this did not influence my review.

Two to two and a half stars.

A People's History of Heaven is an odd book in that I didn't find it to be plot-driven or character-driven. It is populated with too many characters and I had to repeatedly refer to the list of The People of Heaven to keep all of them straight. The plot is non-linear and jumps back and forth in time, typically without any demarcation or preamble indicating that a shift has taken place. Furthermore,
Sachi Argabright
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF HEAVEN is a story of 5 girls living in a Bangalore slum called Heaven. These best friends and their families work hard to support each other, even while constantly battling the government from bulldozing their neighborhood. This novel features a wide cast of characters and each girl has a unique perspective to offer. This book highlights many themes such as poverty, feminism, transgender issues, and living with disabilities. This beautifully written novel follows these gi ...more
Felicia | The Bookish Brunette
4.5 stars.

In A People's History of Heaven, a small slum of Bangalore called Heaven is at risk of being destroyed and effectively erased in order to be replaced by a shopping mall. A group of young girls from the community band together in resistance to protect their home. Following a cast of vibrant, powerful and unique characters, this story is stunning and so beautifully crafted, with words that flow like poetry.

We learn very quickly that this book has two main storylines, running parallel to

Visit the locations in the book

A remarkable book this one. The title for a start is one that captures so many images, beliefs and expectations. Yet this heaven is actually the name of a slum in Bangalore. It’s not just any slum either- for this is one made up mainly of women. Their men have abandoned them and so the woman here go and forage what they can. They have not produced male heirs so they must survive at they can. Imagine being on the bottom on life’s pile as you have not given birth to
Valerie Best
I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I picked this up.
Wait, stop. I did. It’s a story about a collection of girls set in an Indian slum. I was expecting this to be hard.
I was not expecting this book. I wasn’t expecting how kind Subramanian was to her characters, and to her reader. She didn’t change the reality of their circumstances—these are 14 and 15-year-old girls who live in a slum called Heaven within Bangalore. Subramanian doesn’t exclude their crushing poverty or their limited access
Cheyenne|Tonkin About Books

“It’s not easy to be a girl. But trust me, my dear. It is much, much harder to be a woman.”

Hey guys! Do I have a treat for you today! This review is going to be so great because I legit loved this book and cannot thank my friends over at Algonquin enough for offering this ARC to me!

Early on, we girls learn that life owes us nothing, that womanhood is a spectrum of nuisances, heartbreak, and tragedies.

A People’s History of Heaven centers around five young girls who share stories of love,
Kathryn Speckels (Metaphors and Miscellanea)
"It's funny, being a girl. That thing that's supposed to push you down, defeat you, shove you back, bad, and farther back still? Turn it the right way, and it'll push you forward instead."

A People's History of Heaven is a rich, poignant river of poeticism that pulls you slowly and irresistably through the lives of five remarkable girls and the women surrounding them. This is one of the best books I've read so far this year, and I give it five stars without the slightest reservation.

Where do I ev
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