Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Letter from Heaven

A Letter From Heaven, written by Steve Butler, addresses the sensitive issue of a child’s death.

In this case, Jamie’s older sister, Alexandra, died at birth. Her ashes are kept on the mantle in a special vase. When Jamie is very small he asks, “What’s that?” The answer given is, “That’s Alexandra.”

This answer suffices until Jamie gets older. Then he wants to know, “Who is Alexandra?” At that point, Jamie’s mom goes over to the mantle, reaches behind the vase, and pulls out a letter. The letter is supposed to be from Alexandra, and it is addressed to Jamie. In the letter, Alexandra explains to Jamie what happened to her. She talks about her birth, her death and going to heaven (as well as other things).

The watercolor illustrations by Vaun Healey look like something a child would do. I’m not sure if that effect was intended.

What I Like: This book tackles a difficult subject, and as one reviewer put it, the author addressed “a rarely talked about issue regarding the questions and feelings children have when they discover that their parents had a previous child who died.” That’s a good thing.

What I Dislike: There just seems to be something missing from the story. After the letter is read to Jamie (and it’s a good letter), there is no discussion between mother and son about the sister Jamie never knew. I think the story would have been stronger if it had more closure.

Also, I noticed a couple of layout issues with the print of the text. They aren’t major issues, but they were somewhat distracting.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: The publisher does not give a suggested age group for this book, but I would say it would be 5-9.

Publisher Info: AuthorHouse, 2008; ISBN: 9781434347152; Paperback, $15.99.

Buy now at $14.39.

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