Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Megestu

The "New Start" in American did not Live Up to the Dream


An Immigrant's Story

Sepha Stephanos is a shopkeeper in Washington D.C. who fled Ethiopia during the revolution. He came to America, away from the horror and memories of those horrors, to start a new life. His vision for that dream has changed over time, focusing at first on education, then on a shop to call his own. He settles in a poor section of the city that is slowly being revitalized and becoming more diverse.

Sepha is lonely, having only two friends, also African immigrants, who he meets with on a regular basis and reminisces about life in his old country. Each of them has a story of a past, in their prospective homelands, and each has a dream that has not turned out as they had originally envisioned.

All of this is a backdrop for the story of Sepha and his relationship with his new white neighbor who comes into the community with her biracial daughter. Judith restores a four story old home next to Sepha's apartment.

As the neighborhood begins to change and Sepha develops a relationship with Judith and Neomi, he begins to dream again of the potential in everything around him. But as he goes down this road, racial tensions begin to build and everything is threatened.

This story builds with alternate passages in the present and in the past, slowly revealing the layers of what has happened. Sepha is also discovering who he is and who he may want to be, working on freeing himself from the bonds he himself has created.

This story is powerful and displays raw human emotion. Often it is depressing and hard to read about the racial tensions but wonderfully written. I did enjoy it. 

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