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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Fourteen-year-old Sarah Zorn intends to spend the Wisconsin summer with her “boyfriend” Curtis, waiting for a dead calf named Boris to decompose in time for the science fair. Her plans upend, however, when her fake-boyfriend strategy goes seriously awry just as her hippie Grandma Z invites her on a last-minute Roman holiday. As Sarah explores Italy’s ancient wonders, she can’t stop “boy-liking” Curtis . . . or puzzling over her grandmother’s odd behavior. Written as Sarah’s journal, this satisfying middle grade novel navigates the murky waters of first love, friendship, and family with heart and good humor.…

Heaven Is Paved with Oreos

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Overall Book Review:

“If everything in life was easy and happy, how would you grow up?”

Written in journal format, protagonist Sarah Zorn chronicles the summer between her 8th and 9th grade year in school.  Sarah is smart and her voice is simultaneously factual and cute as she pours out her unfiltered heart and thoughts. The publisher’s note makes it sound like there is a lot “happening”, but this is more of a reflective book.  In fact, the middle third of the book is basically a travel narrative of Rome.  Those readers seeking action might want to check elsewhere because the action in this book is internal.

One strength of this book is the point at which Sarah feels some righteous anger at the behavior of a relative.  Her reaction in that moment feels honest and although issues are thereafter smoothed out fairly neatly, the authenticity of that reaction is one of the best moments in the book.

Set in the same town as the author’s series The Dairy Queen, there are some character cameo appearances from that series; however, it is not necessary to have read that series in order to enjoy or follow Heaven is Paved with Oreos–it is just a nice touch.  This book feels very much like an “in-between” book; it doesn’t feel like a typical middle grade book or a typical young adult book.  It lies somewhere in-between.  This quick read will get you acquainted with a delightful character as she does some growing up.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Violence/Gore:  Report of broken limb in distant past; general reference to someone being injured and recovering.

Sex/Nudity:  Characters are seen kissing; report of birth out of wedlock; general explanation of events leading up to pregnancy out of wedlock; reference to a character’s first period; a couple of references to fooling around; statement that two girls are dating each other; approximately 2 page general discussion about/analyzing lesbian/gay couples, as in who is/was gay, attitudes about, etc.

Mature Subject Matter:

Pregnancy and Birth out of wedlock, parent giving up a child, homosexuality.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink and smoke; passing mention that college age students (under 21) drank wine.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!