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Reviewed by Janet Jensen for Readers' Favorite
First friends, first loves, childhood secrets, love, passion, loss of innocence, guilt, betrayal. Angels and demons. Choices and agency. Loss and grief. These themes are all woven intricately into the plot of Heaven’s Way by Roger Ladd Memmott. The narrator is Danny, and we see his life from childhood to adulthood through his eyes. He recalls meeting Lily, who will remain important to him all through his life: “The day was bright as a bead, and she looked up and smiled like heaven itself. She had ringlets of blonde and a face like a dream.” He grieves the beginning of his loss of innocence when he enters kindergarten: “I knew that school would be the beginning of my undoing. The idyllic life of puppies and pipes and the curious passion of childhood love would vanish. I would begin the journey away from who I’d become to who I might ultimately be.”
One of the most formative events in Danny’s life occurs when he and his best friend Nick climb to the top of a silo. A tragic fall changes their friendship forever and has long-lasting repercussions that are gradually revealed as they eventually face each other as adults - no longer the trusting, optimistic children they once were, now battered by the circumstances that threaten to destroy the lives of the two men and those they love. It is the magical light that has always surrounded Lily that brings peace and hope to Danny’s life again. Memmott tells Danny’s story with tight, beautiful prose and lush description. He dissects choices and their consequences with clarity. “The only fate that exists resides in the choices we make - never to know the outcome of the billions unmade,” Danny reflects. The language in Heaven’s Way is beautiful and I found the story compelling and moving as it came to the inevitable surprising climax and the resulting conclusion: “The universe was not large enough to hold me.”