Wednesday, June 27, 2007

When Heaven Fell by Carolyn Marsden

I read When Heaven Fell on the plane ride home for Portland, Maine today. I picked it up at Cover to Cover the other day. I was drawn to the cover and then realized that I had enjoyed several other books by Carolyn Marsden (especially THE GOLD THREADED DRESS). But, I had not heard anything about it and knew nothing about the plot.

WHEN HEAVEN FELL is a kind of adoption story--so I paid attention as an adoptive mom.

There is an interesting review of this book at Ethnically Incorrect Daughter. I trust this review because the write is a woman who was adopted from Vietnam. So much of what she says about the book makes sense. It is a review worth reading to really understand some of the issues in this book.

But, I saw this book to be one with a lot of merit--one I will put on a bookshelf for my daughter to read as she gets older. I thought it was a good story of the way adoption affects everyone.

This is the story of Binh, a little girl who finds out that she has an aunt that was sent to the US during Operation Babylift. The aunt was 5 years old at the time and the family is awaiting their first visit from her. Binh's family lives in poverty conditions and the expectations of an "American aunt" are based on the movies they've seen. The visit proves them all wrong.

I think what I liked about this book was that it addressed the pain that all partied have when adoption is involved. The struggle of the birthmother deciding to send her daughter to the US for a better life was well-handled. Her grief and sorrow are clear in the book. The sadness of the adopted daughter--even though she is happy- is also addressed. The connection to the birthfamily and the pain that they all feel based on their roles in the family seems authentic to me. The reunion seemed authentic to me--comfortable, yet difficult. I have yet to read a book on adoption written for children t--especially international adoption--that addresses the struggles and pain of all parties so equally.

So, this is a book I will have in my classroom--it gives a clear picture of the struggles of any adoption and shows each character as one to empathize with. I will also keep the book for my daughter as she gets older. You never know which book might help a child make sense of life and I thought this one did a good job with some of the adoption issues that most books ignore-like the birthmother struggle. A difficult subject but the author did a good job of addressing it for such young children.


  1. As another adoptive mom, these types of books are near and dear - thanks so much for the review - I will make sure to pick this one up!!

  2. Thanks for sharing a book with truthful messages - the pain AND joy in adoption. Too often they focus on only the bad, or are based on myths, not truth. I look forward to reading it.

    I am a birthmother, and author of "Because I Loved You: A Birthmother's View Of Open Adotion," and while my book is the only "real life" account of a positive birtmother's story, I am glad that at least the fiction world is changing it's outlook! You can read a sample chapter of my book on my website:, I'd love to hear what you think of it!


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