2015 Reading Challenge
38. A Map of Heaven by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Theme/Topic: book more than 500 pages
What would you do if you had one week to live and a lifetime of unrealized dreams to fulfill? After a series of blinding headaches sends thirty-four-year-old Elizabeth to the hospital, she receives news of an inoperable tumor. Defying doctor’s orders, she heads to Paris in search of a different form of healing and one last chance to experience the life she locked away in a room of her paintings. In Paris, Elizabeth’s days are spent in a budding romance with a doctor escaping his own demons, while her nights are inundated with surreal dreams. In these dreams, she navigates a labyrinth and confronts pivotal moments from her past. Upon waking, she receives mysterious notes hinting that her life may be saved if she could only find the map of Heaven described to her as a child. During her nocturnal journeys through the endless labyrinth, Elizabeth meets an astronomer searching for forgiveness, an artist searching for immortality, and a mother searching for revenge. As her dreams progress, she travels back in time to a small Midwestern town, follows a Parisian tunnel down to the depths of Hell, and eventually reaches a sandy beach offering a possible glimpse of Heaven. In a cruel twist, for her life to be spared, Elizabeth is required to give up everything that has brought her so much joy, including the man she loves. Which will she choose? A return to her old life or a chance to grasp the meaning of life?
This is a deep and thought provoking book. It's good for anyone who is at a crossroads - don't know what direction to take in life. Everyone of us all have those times when we question who we are, who we want to be. That's what Elizabeth goes through when she's diagnosed with terminal cancer. In her case, she has to choose between life and death.
Religion is a major theme throughout Elizabeth's journey through her past and possible future life (when she glimpses heaven and hell in her dreams). The Christian viewpoint is the most prevalent, but not overly preachy. I did like how other views of God were discussed through the people Elizabeth met. We have to be open to differing opinions and accept their point of view.
Elizabeth gets to experience what would have happened if she would have shown her paintings at gallery openings. She let fear get in the way of being happy, so she stuck with her normal career choice. Is there a dream that you have but had to put it on the backburner? It's never too late to follow your dream and be truly happy for going after that dream.
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!