"Sleep Toward Heaven is a merciful gaze on the lives of three women inextricably linked by murder and ultimate grace. Brutal, beautiful, wise--Ward has written a storm of a novel. It will rattle the cage of your heart."
From the Inside Flap
"It's funny and sad and redemptive. Read it now. Thank me later."Jennifer Weiner, New York Times-bestselling author of Good in Bed and In her Shoes
"Faith, forgiveness and redemption comprise tried and true terrain in fiction. Ward delivers all three without manipulation or melodrama. She has woven a wonderful fictional tapestry with meaning embedded in the threads."Pat MacEnulty, Sun-Sentinel
"Women's Death Row as you have never seen it; hauntingly rich, wise and sharply etched. In prison parlance: a bonaroo first novel!"James Ellroy, author of The Cold Six Thousand and L.A. Confidential
"Sleep Toward Heaven is a merciful gaze on the lives of three women inextricably linked by murder and ultimate grace. Brutal, beautiful, wise Amanda Eyre Ward has written a storm of a novel. It will rattle the cage of your heart."Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red
"Sleep Toward Heaven is a riveting read, a page-turner from the get-go. In this ambitious debut novel, with cinematic scope and a probing eye, Amanda Eyre Ward takes her readers inside the criminal justice system and into the hearts and minds of three women a death row inmate dying of AIDS, the young widow of her last victim, and the kind, troubled prison doctor whose lives literally hang in each other's hands during a few desperately hot months of Texas summer." Thisbe Nissen, author of Out of the Girls' Room and Into the Night and The Good People of New York
"This is a terrific read, involving and surprising. Ward gives us a textured, vivid portrait of women on death row. Her writing is unflinching, sometimes hauntingly funny, always compelling."Karen Stolz, author of Fanny and Sue and World of Pies
About the Author
Amanda Eyre Ward was born in New York City, and graduated from Williams College and the University of Montana. Her short stories have been published in various literary reviews and magazines. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, the geologist Tip Meckel. She is a regular contributor to the Austin Chronicle. This is her first novel.
The post office in my neighborhood is a squat building made of cement. Inside, three fabulous men process mail: Claudel, a tall black man with heavy eyelids and a ready smile; Rick, a man I would call jollyit certainly describes himbut for the fact that he is fat, and everyone always calls fat people jolly, and so very few of them really are; and Joe, a wiry blond who has a very foul mouth and doesnt mind using it. (Joe is a bit pudgy, too, but he is by no means jolly.) In truth, I like Claudel the best, because he always asks me how Im doing, and he really seems to care. Also, hes sexy. There were many people in line ahead of me at the South Austin Post Office and the excessive caffeine in my Starbucks was starting to make me nervous and paranoid. What do they put in that coffee? Id really like to know. I have a sneaking suspicion theres something illegal in there, and at the prices they charge, there should be.
At the post office that morning, the people in line started chatting, as will sometimes happen in cramped spaces like buses when the driver gets off to go to the bathroom leaving you stranded at some curb, and (I have heard) submarines. There was one woman with a large package that, she announced, was candy for her niece at summer camp. Holding up an enormous overnight envelope, a boy confided he was sending his first novel to a literary agent. Like we were in a group therapy session, a man piped in that he was mailing a book about plants to his mother in Topeka; a tween said she was mailing a letter to the Spice Girls Fan Club (I have read about these "tweens" in Time magazine, these twelve- to fourteen-year-olds who are running the economy); a girl bashfully admitted she was sending a love letter to her boyfriend, home for the summer in Maine. "I promised Id write every day," said the girl, blushing. "But I ran out of stamps."
Id been smiling away, listening to everyones confessions, nodding encouragement, and when the silence fell, they looked to me. The line still had quite a way to go. I lifted my gaze to the posters of stamps on the wall. I pretended to be deeply interested in the Marilyn Monroe Collectors Edition Stamp Set, fixing the poster with a studied look that I generally reserve for art exhibitions I do not understand. "How about you?" said the wannabe novelist, his glasses perched on the end of his nose. "Whats up with your letter?"
First of all, its illegal to ask questions like that. Im sorry, but it is. Secondly, I could see his little brain turning: Wow, is this going to be a great short story! Ill call it "At the Post Office," or "Fed-Exing My Heart." I clutched my envelope.
"Uh," I said. The group-therapy post office line looked at me expectantly. The candy lady hefted her package to her hip. Topeka man raised his eyebrows encouragingly.
I decided to play it straight. (This was when my sanity began to come into question. Maureen would have told me I could have demurely mentioned "a pen pal" and let the matter rest. But I did not.) "Well," I said, holding up the letter, which was neatly packaged in a clean white envelope, the kind I use to send student loan checks and phone bills, "I wrote a letter to the woman who murdered my husband. Shes on Death Row."
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5.0 out of 5 starsFrom A Male Perspective. A Great Book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 May 2018
Hi - I am glad I have been able to leave some feedback regarding this book. Me, personally, I do not usually read anything written in the 21st century as I generally find modern narratives rather weak when compared to say - mid 20th to late 20th century efforts, not to mention PC censorship and unnecessary white space. As such, I prefer books 19th and 20th century only. What's more, I tend to find that Word filtered offerings now make most authors styles very similar. No matter. I initially bought this book for Scene advice while studying Sandra Schofield's Scene Primer and to be honest, I'm glad I did. I know I am a bloke and yes this is more of a girl's book. But despite this, I thought it was well written and was glad I was on this side of the page. I also found my views swaying either way as I made my way through the book and thought the touché ending was fitting. So, having finally read it, I certainly would recommend Sleep Towards Heaven as a worthwhile read.
this book is simple but brilliant, all I can say is it works for me - it kept me reading and when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it which only happens rarely for me and so I have decided to buy her other books and see how they measure up, sure am looking forward to them!
4.0 out of 5 starstragic but life affirming and so well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 November 2012
I read the authors other book How To Be Lost which I loved, so thought I'd read this one. It was a great read if a little down, but manages to be life affirming as a result. The author has a fantastic writing style.