Review: Heaven Should Fall by Rebecca Coleman

Title: Heaven Should Fall

Author: Rebecca Coleman

Published: Harlequin MIRA October 2012

Synopsis: Alone since her mother’s death, Jill Wagner wants to eat, sleep and breathe Cade Olmstead when he bursts upon her life — golden, handsome and ambitious. Even putting college on hold feels like a minor sacrifice when she discovers she’s pregnant with Cade’s baby. But it won’t be the last sacrifice she’ll have to make… Retreating to the Olmstead’s New England farm seems sensible, if not ideal: they’ll regroup and welcome the baby, surrounded by Cade’s family. But the remote, ramshackle place already feels crowded. Cade’s mother tends to his ailing father, while Cade’s pious sister, her bigoted husband and their rowdy sons overrun the house. Only Cade’s brother, Elias — a combat veteran with a damaged spirit — gives Jill an ally amidst the chaos, along with a glimpse into his disturbing childhood. But his burden is heavy, and she alone cannot kindle his will to live. The tragedy of Elias is like a killing frost, withering Cade in particular, transforming his idealism into bitterness and paranoia. Taking solace in caring for her newborn son, Jill looks up to find her golden boy is gone. In Cade’s place is a desperate man willing to endanger them all in the name of vengeance…unless Jill can find a way out

Status: {Courtesy Harlequin Australia}

My Thoughts:

Fiat justitia ruat caelum
“Let justice be done though the heavens should fall”

Jill Wagner and Cade Olmstead are the quintessential college couple, in love, idealistic and working hard to create their brightly imagined future together. When Jill falls pregnant, the pair are determined that it will not derail their plans but when Cade isn’t able to find work over the summer break he reluctantly concludes that it makes financial sense for them both to move in with his parents until the start of the next semester. Heaven Should Fall explores the tragedy of the Olmstead family whose failures are crystalised by the return of their son, Elias, after military service in Afghanistan.

Heavens Should Fall unfolds from the first person perspectives of Jill, Cade and Cade’s mother, Leela shifting into the third person point of view to reveal Elias, Cade’s brother, struggles with PTSD.

Though the favoured child in his family, Cade always wanted more than life in New Hampshire could offer him. Ambitious and determined, Cade’s plan involves graduating with a master’s degree in Economics and forging a career in politics with an eye to running for Congress, Jill at his side. Despite his attempts at distancing himself from his family he becomes mired in their dysfunctional dynamics when forced to temporarily return home. Resentment builds as the world seems to conspire against Cade’s future plans, with his career stalled and facing mounting debt, he is pushed to his limit when tragedy strikes. Cade’s devolution is not quite as convincing as it could be, though clearly under enormous stress his extreme reaction seems abrupt even given the influence that the militia rhetoric of his childhood must impose. Guilt plays a part and as everything spiral out of his control Cade’s feelings of failure are twisted into a need to see justice done.

Jill is not as certain about her career goals as Cade but she is sure that her future lies with him. Jill is thrilled when circumstances force the couple to temporarily relocate to New Hampshire, it’s been three years since her mother died and she is eager to be part of a family, dismissing Cade’s warning’s about his family’s odd lifestyle. Even as it becomes clear that the Olmstead home is poisoned by extreme views on authority, religion and family loyalty, Jill clings to the notion that the family is all bark and no bite. It takes a tragedy for her to begin to lose faith in Cade and reconsider the needs of herself and her son, though she it risk of leaving it too late to save them all.

While Cade and Jill’s story drives the novel it is Elias’s that is its catalyst. After three years of military service in Afghanistan he returns home haunted by the stress of battle. Holing up in the Olmstead home, the military offers him little else other than medication to keep his demons at bay. Coleman makes a bold, honest statement about the struggles returning soldiers face as they attempt to reintegrate into civilian life. Elias displays the classic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder – hyper alertness, nightmares, agrophobia and depression. Elias’s personal history makes him particularly vulnerable and his family’s denial about his condition exacerbates the risk of tragedy. Jill’s attempts to help Elias unintentionally add to his burdens rather than lighten them.

Though at times I felt the pace dragged a little I found myself considering the issues the novels raises at odd times after I had finished it, especially in regards to the lack of assistance for returned soldiers. Heaven Should Fall is a grim and compelling tale whose finely crafted characters reveal a thoughtful study of an insular family stunted by extremist views and shocking tragedy.

Available To Purchase

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US Cover

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 23:30:29

    I like the sound of this one…I do love stories about mental health issues, especially PTSD. Thanks for sharing….



  2. Teddyree
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 15:52:49

    My review for this one goes up next week, it’s thought provoking but I wasn’t as captivated with this one as I was with The Kingdom Of Childhood



  3. Trackback: Heaven Should Fall by Rebecca Coleman - Bella's ShelfBella's Shelf

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