Strange Heaven by Lynn CoadyStrange Heaven by Lynn Coady

Strange Heaven

byLynn Coady

Paperback | December 31, 1998

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Strange Heaven is tearfully hilarious, as funny and appalling as reality. Bridget Murphy, almost eighteen, has come to Halifax from industrial Cape Breton, had her baby, and given it up for adoption. Transferred to the psych ward of the children's hospital, she's incarcerated with five seriously disturbed teenagers and a flock of wan children.

She's depressed, they say. Apathetic. Bridget is a bit detached, but Four South is peaceful compared with the chaos back home. Her grandmother, Margaret P., raves and prays from her bed, banging the wall with her bedpan. Bridget's parents, Robert and Joan, take care of her and her mentally handicapped son, Rollie. Joan tries to keep the lid on, but she's no match for Robert's wild profanity, Margaret's dementia, and Rollie's efforts to join the fray. Uncle Albert, a kind man who saves his eloquent wrath for outsiders, springs Bridget from the hospital for Christmas.

But home is more chaotic than ever, and she's sick of her boozy friends and the whining of the baby's father. She had half planned to hibernate at home till kingdom come, but it's become like a lurid movie she saw eons ago and she's forgotten the plot. Her future may be unclear, but she has a good idea of the direction it won't take.

Lynn Coady (b. 1970) grew up on Cape Breton Island and lived in New Brunswick before moving to Vancouver. Her first novel, Strange Heaven (Goose Lane, 1998), won the Dartmouth Book Award and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. "Batter My Heart" appeared first in the Fiddlehead and is included in her second book...
Title:Strange HeavenFormat:PaperbackDimensions:198 pages, 8.48 × 5.56 × 0.58 inPublished:December 31, 1998Publisher:Goose Lane EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0864922302

ISBN - 13:9780864922304

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strange Heaven: A Review from The Bibliotaphe Closet Strange Heaven by Lynn Coady is a fiercely intelligent and honest, transparent novel about a teenage girl named Bridget Murphy who first transfers herself to a children’s hospital psychiatric ward after giving birth to a baby and putting it up for adoption and then returns home for the Christmas holidays to her rambunctious and irreverent family. She is at the centre of the book as its narrator who is surrounded by dysfunctional, yet authentic characters found in the ward as Mona, the suspected pathological liar; Kelly and Maria, starving young girls with anorexia; and Byron, the insecure and attention-seeking megalomaniac. Together they form a quasi-family of sorts, one that is bound by the common thread of illness, dysfunction, and burden of being ostracized and misunderstood. The psychiatric ward becomes a form of escape and refuge for Bridget as well as an experimental outlet in which she can decide how she wants to respond to her personal trauma of birthing and ultimately who she can be as she creates for herself an adamant assertion to remain if not completely cold, certainly distant and outwardly indifferent. Those in the ward, too, represent the communal angst that reverberates throughout the helplessness and anxiety of the youth destitute towards the banality of pub-crawls and fist fights that daily drinking incurs, caged in a small town. But, they also represent a community in which Bridget’s apathy is not as isolated as she would prefer it to be—that is to say—Bridget Murphy is not alone. To read the rest of my review, you may visit my blog, The Bibliotaphe's Closet:
Date published: 2012-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just Like Home This book was written in everyday language of Cape Bretoners making it not only easy to read but bringing back memories from home for those of us that are displaced Cape Bretoners. It's not so much about events as about people and the way they think and react to situations given the place in the world where they are brought up. It's about relationships between friends and family from the perspective of a teenage girl. The writer really understands the girl's situation in life which makes you wonder if she may be writing about her own life.
Date published: 2000-02-26

From Our Editors

Bridget Murphy isn't a typical 18-year-old. The Cape Breton native came to Halifax's children's hospital, gave birth to a baby, put it up for adoption and ended up incarcerated in the psych ward with five seriously-disturbed teens. The hospital staff says she's depressed, but this is a vacation compared to her home life. Bridget's grandmother raves and prays from bed, her father swears like a sailor and her mother tries to cover it. That's not even mentioning her boozehound friends and whiny ex-boyfriend. When she goes home for Christmas, she decides her future may be unclear, but she knows the direction it won't take. Nominated for a Governor General's award, Lynn Coady's Strange Heaven makes our everyday troubles seem mundane.

Editorial Reviews

"Lynn Coady is out to bust the stereotype; she writes about her home with irreverence, ambivalence, and a lot of humour." — Quill & Quire