The idea behind Between Heaven and Helen is very clever. The blurb on the back of the book explains : "We literally meet thousands of people during our lifetime. Only a few of those will truly impact our lives. This is the story of how seven individuals are intertwined in this web of life and how they all will become caught between heaven and Helen."
It's an interesting concept and one that makes the reader ponder destiny, coincidence and "what might have been"s. It does, however, mean that the story inevitably seems a bit contrived. One or two chance meetings would be totally believable but seven constantly crossing destinies seems a bit too much.
Add to this the fact that the book jumps from character to character and also decade to decade, leaping back and forth in time to help elucidate the connections between the characters, and you have a novel which is extremely confusing to begin with. Once you get a feel for who is who, though, it does get easier so it's worth battling through the seemingly random and disconnected early chapters.
Each of the key characters is a perfectly ordinary person that we can all relate to but who has undergone some heartbreak or traumatic experience in the past. As their stories are revealed, the reader will discover some extremely touching and poignant moments. The book touches on some serious issues such as domestic violence, forbidden love, homophobia and racism, but it is ultimately a feel-good novel, albeit with some poignant moments.
I did work out exactly what was going on way before the end but the originality of the story-telling and the poignancy of the tales kept me reading to the very end.
star rating : 4/5
Release Date: 15/6/2012
Number of Pages: 252
Disclosure : I received a review copy directly from the author in America. It doesn't appear to be available in Europe yet, at least on amazon.
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