The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • Time • AARP • Town & Country • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From James McBride, author of the bestselling Oprah’s Book Club pick Deacon King Kong and the National Book Award–winning The Good Lord Bird, a novel about small-town secrets and the people who keep them
In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.
As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us.
Bringing his masterly storytelling skills and his deep faith in humanity to The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, James McBride has written a novel as compassionate as Deacon King Kong and as inventive as The Good Lord Bird.
“The interlocking destinies of [McBride’s] characters make for tense, absorbing drama and, at times, warm, humane comedy. … If it’s possible for America to have a poet laureate, why can’t James McBride be its storyteller-in-chief?” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Funny, tender, knockabout, gritty, and suspenseful, McBride’s microcosmic, socially critiquing, and empathic novel dynamically celebrates difference, kindness, ingenuity, and the force that compels us to move heaven and earth to help each other.” -- Booklist (starred review)
“A stunning page turner… and an utterly captivating, compassionate story.” -- Real Simple
“Powerful.” -- Town & Country
“[McBride is] a masterful storyteller who always brings a deep well of humanity and humor to his exuberant, expansive tales.” -- LitHub
“A compelling novel, compellingly written, and not to be missed…McBride takes a mash-up of plots and over a dozen main characters, each with his or her own history, and weaves them together seamlessly with humor, empathy, and a determined sense of justice. . .[He] ends the novel with so much poignancy and heartfelt sympathy for his characters that readers will be hard-pressed not to be moved.” -- Library Journal (starred review)
“Vibrant. . .McBride’s pages burst with life. . .This endlessly rich saga highlights the different ways in which people look out for one another.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)