Heaven - V.C. Andrews
Reading Challenge Category: Your favourite book
Of all the folks on the mountain, the Casteel children are the lowest. Even the families that buy them think so. Heaven Leigh Casteel may be the prettiest, smartest girl in the backwoods, but her cruel father and weary stepmother work her like a mule. For the sake of her brother Tom and the other little ones, Heaven clings to the hope that someday she can show the world that they are worthy of love and respect. But when the children’s stepmother can’t take it anymore and abandons the family, Heaven’s father hatches a scheme that will alter her young life forever. Being sold to a strange couple is just the beginning; ripping away the thin veneer of civilization and learning the adult secrets of the world around her means Heaven must abandon someone, too—the child she was, to become the woman her mother never had the chance to be.
This is my all-time favourite book, and I read it at least every other year. So, of course, I had to choose it for my reading challenge of ‘your favourite book’. It’s been strange though because since I have been reading books more intensely the past two years and writing reviews, I’ve been apprehensive about revisiting ‘Heaven’. What if it isn’t as good as some of the books I’ve discovered? What if because I know what’s going to happen I read it really slowly, and it doesn’t grip me anymore? So I’ve been putting off reading it all year, but then the past couple of weeks I felt the story calling to me as it has in the past when I’ve reread it. So I knew it was time! Well, after finishing it, it is certainly still my favourite book. It was like revisiting visions of a past life. Terrible things happen in the book, so it’s like remembering bad memories that you’ve lived through. I knew what was coming at each juncture, and I could feel myself welling up before anything had happened. These characters feel like an extension to my being, and when they hurt, I hurt. I know this sounds melodramatic, but that’s what this book does to me. Not just this book, I have realised but the entire series. I thought I might get away with just reading ‘Heaven’ on its own and maybe revisit the other four next year some time. Nope, picked up book two straight after finishing this one, I couldn’t wait. Be dammed all the books I am committed to reading; they are going to have to wait. I did go into the book with new, more experienced reading eyes. Knowing that I was going to have to write this review made me evaluate what it is that fascinates me about the story. I still don’t think I know just that I had a lump in my throat the entire time I was reading and was getting goosebumps. The characters are just so likeable. They aren’t supposed to be, they are the lowest of the low, but what they have to endure is just so harrowing. I’d forgotten how distressing and heartbreaking parts of the story were. The entire story captures you and takes you along the journey with the Casteel children. I kept remembering what is going to happen in the subsequent books, and I think it is the story as a whole that keeps me coming back to these books time and time again. I know when I have finished book five, I am going to be broken. Last time I read it I sobbed for ages afterwards and I don’t expect this time to be any different. So, yes, this book is still my all-time favourite, and it makes my top five reads for this year. That feels a bit like cheating putting it in there, as it was guaranteed to make it, but it is well deserved as well!