Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman


When Nora Silk, a recently divorced mother of two, moves into a small suburb in Long Island in 1959, her single unmarried state upsets the delicate balance. It’s a town where emotional mess is kept hidden and everyone is expected to keep their lawn perfect. But Nora is a beautiful carefree spirit,  and though she wants to fit in, she just doesn’t understand that her difference is threatening to the delicate fabric of the community.

Her elder son has the uncanny ability to hear what people are thinking, and the events of his life have made him an anxious child. He is almost immediately bullied at the school. But just as the way things have always been is threatened, things change slowly. People start to wish for change and long for the things that they thought they could never have.

It’s a lovely story, really evocative of the late fifties and early sixties, a time when attitudes would start to change radically. It has subtle magical elements, which is something that Hoffman weaves into her stories so beautifully, but they are not the main focus of the story. It’s about suburban life, fitting in, and breaking free. Some of the characters are beautiful, some of them ugly, but most of them just people struggling with the moods oof life, the way that your path lies already written before you, and whether you can reject it and find something else.

Read It If: you grew up in suburbia, or if you ever struggled to fit in. It’s a lovely, moving story.

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