I Can See Heaven
Susan E. Briggs
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Buy *I Can See Heaven* by Susan E. Briggs online

I Can See Heaven
Susan E. Briggs
Ex Machina Press
328 pages
March 2009
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Susan E. Briggs writes her debut novel, I Can See Heaven, as a love story, road trip, and dream world all combined into one amazing tale of the search for home. The main characters, Elizabeth and Henry, and their daughter, Sara, bring life to Briggs’s story of love, hardship and strength. Noah, Matthew, and Jason also live on the farm as hands. They texture her writing with mystery, pasts, and obsession. Each of these three brings a different characteristic to the Hobson family which enhances them and makes the farm stronger.

Delilah, an unexpected and later unwanted guest, causes trouble when she appears on the Hobson farm. Unbeknownst to the family, she is searching for her estranged son. Her wandering has led in many directions, and now she has come to the their home. Every character’s personal journey illustrates the complexities of the human condition and spirit. Eventually their frustrations collide, challenging the routine lives of the Hobson family.

In the summer of 1997, the Hale-Bopp comet will soon fly over the Hobsons’ Ohio farm, whose inhabitants are preoccupied with their own inner questions of purpose, life, and desire. Henry finds himself at peace in the fields but restless at home. Elizabeth, a strong and kind woman, cherishes her love of husband and family, and Sara undergoes heartache and great changes during these months. Noah, the scientist, follows the Hale-Bopp comet with obsessive precision; Jason is lovesick over a girl in town, and Matthew is a traveler - whether he will stay or go is questionable. Delilah’s arrival, much like a maelstrom, disturbs the Hobson’s peaceful home. Her abrupt departure relieves the family, and harmony is restored.

All of the characters' pasts affect their present circumstance, revealing the incredible fragility of human relationships between people and with the world. Briggs delicately creates a beautiful yet painful world of lives constantly seeking purpose and a place to call home. There is no greater miracle for these characters than to have one unalterable, harmonious place. They find that on the Hobson farm, and with each other.

I Can See Heaven is a deeply intertwining story about a family living in a world ruled by love, fate, hardship, and a search for home. Briggs raises the human spirit to the sky with a touch, a glance, a brush of wheat on one’s skin, and a glimmer of hope. Throughout the novel, laughter and tears have their place in humanity, but hopelessness is absent.

Filling her narrative with mysterious pasts, histories, and unusual characters, Briggs reveals the human experience through a real family. The point where heaven and earth meets is where nothing is forgotten and everything changes.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Mona Lisa Safai, 2009

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