By Susan Straight
McSweeney’s Books, $24.00, 234 pages
Although Between Heaven And Here by Susan Straight is a well-written book, it isn’t an easy read. The story begins in a hot Californian August on the streets of Rio Seco. At first, in the darkness of Palm Avenue, Sidney Chabert thinks that Glorette Picard, a local beauty, is only sleeping in a shopping cart. But after approaching her, he understands that she is dead. He can’t call the police – not only because he is afraid to become a suspect but also because he fears that no one would care about her. She was a prostitute, ready to do whatever it took for some rock or 20 dollars. But on top of all that, he just couldn’t leave her there because he was in love with her. He brings her to her cousin’s, and together they take her to her uncle’s home. Unlike Sidney, Alfonso (the witness to the killing) and Sisia (Glorette’s closest friend and “co-worker”) dare to call the police. They pretend that Glorette died from natural cause in order to protect themselves and her seventeen-year-old son, Victor. While describing the preparation for Glorette’s burying, Straight tells the dark and tragic stories of each character.
Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson