Book: Heaven Eyes, by David Almond
Summary: Erin Law and her friends are damaged children. At least, this is the label given to them by Maureen, the woman who runs the orphanage where they live. Damaged, beyond repair, because they have no parents to take care of them. But Erin knows that if they care for each other, they can put up with the psychologists, the social workers, the therapists -- at least, most of the time. Sometimes there is nothing left to do but run away - run for freedom. And that is what Erin and two friends do, run away one night down the river on a raft. What they find on their journey is stranger than you can imagine, maybe, and you might not think it's true. But Erin will tell you it is all true. And the proof is a girl named Heaven Eyes, who sees through all the darkness in the world to the joy that lies beneath. (summary from GoodReads)
My thoughts: I'm having a mixed reaction to this book. The story is simple, yet still managed to touch my heart. I could feel Erin longing for her mother, feel January longing for someone to love him. I could feel the bond between the characters in the book, a bond born of shared suffering. I loved the joy in Heaven Eyes, and her simple, yet peaceful outlook on the world. I loved the slow reveal -- like looking at a magnified part of a larger picture. As the story unfolds, you see more and more, and the picture becomes clearer. I also liked the ending, and the sense of hope in the story -- I love a hopeful story.
Yet with all these things I liked, somehow I didn't really connect with the story as much as I wanted to. Maybe it was the simplicity or shortness; I didn't quite feel like I had enough time with the characters to really connect. I also didn't get much of a sense of place, but I think that was deliberate, or at least not accidental.
I guess the bottom line, is that I can recommend this story to someone not looking for a simple, stark story with a lot of heart and a feel-good message.