The Ghosts of Heaven

The Ghosts of Heaven

Book - 2015
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Spirals connect these four linked stories of discovery and survival, which begin with a Paleolithic-era girl who makes the first written signs, continue with Anna, who people call a witch, then a mad twentieth-century poet who watches the ocean knowing the horrors it hides, and concluding with an astronaut on the first spaceship from Earth sent to colonize another world.
Publisher: New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2015
Edition: First American edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781626721258
9781250073679
1626721254
1250073677
Characteristics: 359 pages ; 22 cm

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JCLChrisK Nov 23, 2016

This consists of four stories--"quarters," Sedgwick calls them--from four different eras. Each is a compelling, haunting meditation on human nature. Each has horror undertones, confronts suffering and misery. Each is distinct in style, tone, setting, and action. Each involves philosophical musings about the meaning of spirals in the way of Jungian archetypes.

I was drawn into and moved by all of them. I would have liked to have been a bit more moved by the connecting framework of the spiral, as I connected with it philosophical but not as emotionally as the characters. Nevertheless, I remain haunted by the imagery and associations. A quietly powerful book.

ellie_o May 06, 2016

This took me a bit to get into it, but just like other Sedgwick books, I love it for the complexity, symbolism and overall literary genius of it. I'll never look at spirals the same way again.
Note - the intro says that you can read each section in whichever order you choose. I'd be interested in rereading some of the earlier sections to see how the "ending" impacts the way they read. I'm glad that I read cover-to-cover, though - there are definitely elements that build upon each other.

s
SashaE
Mar 12, 2016

I give lots of books 5 stars, But this one I would give 6 if I could, This was a very descriptive book, I loved reading it. It was very very interesting, I loved the time sets, I read it two ways, I found it by accident too, I'm glad I did, This actually did give me a view on life, I loved it, I would read it over and over, I really recommend this! It's a thing that will get you thinking, The witch trials one was a bit boring until I started to understand what was happening, I love reading, And this is a book I love! I recommend this! 6/5 stars, Read it. And there was a code in the back of the book too, I think, I was too lazy to solve it, But I would like to know, This was a book I will be reading again, I liked how it also said what A Spiral and a helix where, I was very interested in the book. I found this book very unique, I loved it!!! I RECOMMEND!

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snaylor
Dec 20, 2015

A unique, challenging read. Definitely dark, but not totally lacking hope. I enjoyed looking for connections between the stories, and though the final story was a little difficult to follow at times, I found the conclusion very satisfying. Like Sedgwick's other work, it's an unusual book, but I couldn't stop reading it. One of the most interesting books I've read in a while.

m
maroon_chicken
Nov 01, 2015

This book is made up of four stories in four different times in history— one takes place in the stone age, one in thirteenth century England, one in an early 20th century insane asylum, and one in the far future on a rocket ship headed to colonize a new world. The stories all link to each other through spirals, as well as by referencing the other stories. In the preface it said that the stories could be read in any which way, though to make the Goodreads page updates easier on myself I read them in the order they appear in the book.

I loved this book. I thought it was really clever, and the stories were really suspenseful. I liked how each story ended with the character stepping off into the unknown. There were some some minor problems with this book that really bugged me— the first being the cover, which features a picture of a spiral staircase coming out of the waves. Careful inspection reveals that the illustrator (Elizabeth H Clark, in case you follow book jacket artists) just took a section of a spiral staircase and copied it all the way up instead of actually figuring out the correct perspective.

Another was in the final story when the spaceship's computer detects a radio wave signal with a frequency of 1.6180339887 Hz and, because 1.6180339887 is approximately equal to phi (a number associated with the Fibonacci spirals), decides that this is proof of intelligent life. While that number would be significant, the Hz is a completely arbitrary unit equal to one cycle per second, and any alien life sending out such a signal would have no way of knowing what a Hertz is.

Besides that, it was terrific, and now I'm trying to solve the hexadecimal cipher in the back of the book!

m
marthabwaters
Feb 24, 2015

I didn't like this as much as Midwinterblood, which quite deservedly won the Printz, but this is a solid effort. It's a bunch of stories across time and place, connected by a concept. (And, as Sedgwick notes in his introduction, they can be read in any order.) It's a weird book, and Sedgwick's stuff isn't for everyone, but it's intriguing--and I loved the ending.

c
Cristina_Cristina
Jan 26, 2015

This book is written as four separate stories, all about spirals and the general mysteries of the Universe. All of the stories are very dark, not shying away from death as an ending for many of the characters. The first story is the shortest (and written in prose, which I loved), and they all get longer from there. I found the first three stories really easy to read and beautifully written, but the fourth story was long, without much dialogue, and too theoretical for me (I’ve never understood actually meeting another physical manifestation of yourself). Nonetheless, this is a magical book to read and great food for thought, although I will warn you that you will start seeing spirals everywhere in your life!

Chapel_Hill_KarinM Jan 26, 2015

Like (Printz award-winner) Midwinterblood, this title has several sections spanning different places and times, but tied together by a concept. In this case it's the spiral, and it's complicated. I didn't always enjoy reading this book; it made my brain hurt sometimes. But it haunted me when I wasn't reading it, and I'm still a little unsettled by it. So I think that means it's kind of masterful.

Quotes

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JCLChrisK Nov 23, 2016

It is enough to know that not to know is enough.
It is enough not to know.

JCLChrisK Nov 23, 2016

You want to go back to the start. You want to go back to where you began. You want to find the happiness you once had. But you can never get there, because even if you somehow found it, you yourself would be different. You would have changed, from your journey alone, from the passing of time, if nothing else. You can never make it back to where you began, you can only ever climb another turn of the spiral stair. Forever.

JCLChrisK Nov 23, 2016

To see yourself on camera is not a natural thing, a thing no normal person is comfortable with; for it shows us as others see us, not as who we believe we really are.

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SashaE
Mar 13, 2016

SashaE thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 25

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snaylor
Dec 20, 2015

snaylor thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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