A People’s History of Heaven (e-ARC)
Author: Mathangi Subramanian
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Released: January 14th 2020
Format: E-book (Paperback)
Characters: Banu, Joy, Rukshana, Deepa, Padma, …
In the tight-knit community known as Heaven, a ramshackle slum hidden between luxury high-rises in Bangalore, India, five girls on the cusp of womanhood forge an unbreakable bond. Muslim, Christian, and Hindu; queer and straight; they are full of life, and they love and accept one another unconditionally. Whatever they have, they share. Marginalized women, they are determined to transcend their surroundings.
When the local government threatens to demolish their tin shacks in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.
Before I start my review, I’d like to thank Algonquin Books team for letting me posting this review on a later date for the blog tour. I was supposed to post this on the 19th but work is taking a toll on me, so not much reading and blogging had been done. Without further ado, let’s get into the review!
This book is wholesome. It covers SOOOO MANYYY aspects in life and it represents the word ‘diversity’ so well. From POC representation to LGBT representation. Plus, it was done with depth and a lot of discussion about all these issues have been included in this book. It was pure joy going into this book and to know that the author never stopped at just one issue. This book is about a small community but the people are not small at all. There are not many of them but each of them are unique and special and relatable in many ways.
A People’s History of Heaven focuses on 5 Indian girls who live in a slum called Heaven in Bangalore. They have different personalities, different faiths, different abilities and they really shine throughout the story. The whole story was not much, as in it wasn’t about plot development, it was more about the characters and their stories. After I finished reading, I was like wait, there wasn’t much plot development going on and I didn’t mind at all because the story of each girl and woman in the book was what matter most and I really adored them. We are served with different generations of women and their struggles as girl and as housewives in India. Also, the lack of opportunity to get education, to get a better life compared to sons, the fate that they need to accept regardless their thoughts.
I was amazed with the representation of LGBT. Not only the author covered on transgender’s struggles in their daily life, including getting into colleges and getting harassed by men. Joy was known as Anand and after being baptised, she then is known as Joy and I really adored how supportive her mother of her. The way she stood up for her daughter was really touching. Then we have Rukshana who’s a lesbian, and then Banu’s ajji‘s husband who was a gay and having a relationship with another man while being married to Banu’s ajji. And all of these were written so well and it wasn’t just on the surface level at all. It was done thoroughly.
We also have Deepa, a blind girl who has so much spirit in her that it lifted up my mood every time I read the parts or moments with her in it. I love how each and every girl has their own set of struggles yet they manage to live up to their optimal potential. Their friendship is out of the world. Oh, and not forgetting Janaki ma’am for being so supportive to the girls, she’s the headmistress that I wish to meet some day in my real life.
All in all, this is such a phenomenal book. It gave you a good feeling right after you finish reading it and maybe days later. I’m just so glad I got to read it and share my thoughts about it. My review honestly didn’t do enough justice but I’d totally recommend A People’s History of Heaven. It’s a great coming of age story and it will make you have a new outlook in life.
Thank you Algonquin Books for sending me an e-ARC through Netgalley and to have me on the blog tour.
About the Author
Mathangi Subramanian is an award winning writer, author, and educator. A former public school teacher, senior policy analyst for the New York City Council, and assistant vice president at Sesame Workshop, Mathangi Subramanian’s work has appeared in The Washington Post.com, Ms. Magazine Digital, Zora Magazine, Al Jazeera America, Quartz, The Hindu, The Wire, The Indian Express, and the Seal Press anthology Click! When We Knew We Were Feminists, among others.
Source: Mathangi Subramanian‘s Website