Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: The Heavens Weep for us

The Heavens Weep for us: And other stories by Thelma Reyna

If you enjoy Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories, or Sandra Cisneros' ability to portray ordinary Hispanic characters with engaging authenticity and universality, you'll enjoy Thelma Reyna's twelve stories in this thoughtful, moving, sensitive book. From the sheer poetry of the title story, to the complex depiction of a comatose woman and her guilt-ridden unfaithful husband, Reyna exposes the private griefs and losses we all experience in life and imbues her motley cast of characters with deep humanity, courage, and perseverance . Reyna's style is alternately quiet and intense, yet always insightful, poetic, and literary. Have a box of Kleenex and a dictionary by your side. She'll leave you thinking and discovering multiple layers of meanings in her stories long after you've read them. A Hispanic-American author, Reyna's stories speak to all of us, across ethnicities, age, gender, and social status.

Reviewed by: Bela M.

Review: The Heavens Weep for Us is a collection of short stories that are suppose to make you laugh and cry at the same time. I'll be honest--most of the stories did not have that effect on me; however, there was one that did. In "Little Box," an old lady named Petra visits her daughter and son-in-law in Chicago. During her stay, she takes the dog for a walk and discovers a little box along the way. It was a fancy box that just screamed, 'expensive.' Being that she likes collecting hand-me-downs, Petra took the box and hid it in drawer of her daughter's home. Her plan was to take it back home and add it to her vast collection. But Petra noticed something else during her Chicago visit. Her daughter's marriage may be falling apart. Not wanting to interfere, Petra leaves them to hash it out. Eventually, Petra jumps on a plane back to Arizona when she realizes that she forgot the little box she wanted to bring back with her. And that little box ends up causing some big trouble for her daughter's marriage. The conclusive irony was hilarious and sad.

Reyna has proven her great talent with a sensitive writing style used in these stories. I did, however, feel that some of these stories were unfinished--they had a solid beginning and a middle, but no ending. A story should have all three: a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Nonetheless, the best story was "Little Box."


  1. I appreciate the honest and specific reviews you give on your blog. I wanted to know if you keep a list of your 5 star reviews. With so many books out there I have to be selective on where I spend my $.

  2. Hi, Alvarado, adding a list of our 5-star reviews is a great idea! We'll work on compiling a list and will add it to our site as soon as we can. Thanks!