In this whimsical free-verse novel for young adults, sixteen-year-old Hunter propels himself out of this world — literally — and into the next after pushing his ultralight bike beyond risk. He arrives in what he understands to be heaven, to be met by his celestial guide, name of Archie, who tries to interpret for Hunter the rules of this rather confusing realm.
It's not long before Hunter meets a girl he used to know in Grade 6, name of Trinity, and from this point on his mission is to love her and protect her. Protect her from herself — and also from the nasty character she became involved with before she died of a drug overdose. As part of this mission, Hunter is able to take advantage of a new policy in heaven that allows some recently deceased to return and pick up their lives again. In this way, Hunter tries to prevent the death of Trinity — but it doesn't work.
Complications multiply until both Hunter and Trinity find a redemptive path which gives them both back their real lives and new opportunities. Lesley Choyce has woven a sometimes comic, sometimes moving narrative, focusing on the kinds of mixed-up teens he seems to know so well. In the end love conquers almost everything, but the twists and turns are engaging and illuminating, as Hunter and Trinity find their way to happiness.
words are sparse, vivid, and very accessible for teenage readers. He is the author of many novels for young adult readers including Random, Book of Michael, Dumb Luck, The End of the World as We Know It, and Living Outside the Lines. Lesley lives in Nova Scotia.
"A sincere, skillfully told exploration of choices, consequences, near-death experiences, heaven, and the meaning of life."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Lesley Choyce's latest publication utilizes dreamy, imaginative free verse to explore the themes of belief, the afterlife, and first love. . . Whilst fluidly varying the setting of this book between the afterlife and the "real world", Choyce explores the potential consequences our choices can have on our own lives and the lives of those around us. Indeed, through the use of indentation and multiple voices, points of view emerge from the text leaving readers with somewhat of a debate on the subject of fate and our role within it. Ultimately, readers glean a provocative yet sincere meditation on the meaning of life from Closing Down Heaven."
— Resource Links
"While this novel talks about heaven, it is not a religious novel. Instead, it explores the ideas of destiny and free will in a thoughtful manner that is perfect for discussion. The free-verse format makes it a fast read, but the weighty subject matter will make readers pause to think about the meaning of life, consequences of their actions, and redemption. Libraries should add Closing Down Heaven to their collection, especially if they are in need of a romance book told from the male perspective that will entice reluctant readers."
— VOYA Magazine
"This intriguing tale deals with questions of life, death, choices, and consequences, all while avoiding a didactic tone.
VERDICT A good choice for middle and high school libraries, but the use of verse might limit its appeal."
— School Library Journal
"The free-verse form of the novel gives the whole work a dreamlike quality, and the story is compelling and sweet. . . The novel then hurtles toward a riddled close that, with its back-and-forth nature, seems to take away some of the power of the earlier stakes. However, the story remains compelling to the end."
— Foreword Reviews
"Lack of control is a central theme of the novel, and one with which teens will identify. Choyce's version of Heaven is fluid and unstructured. Rules and situations change on a dime, and Archie, whose attitude seems laissez-faire to Hunter, reflects this. Archie realizes that Heaven, like life, requires a certain amount of rolling with it. Free will makes life unpredictable, and no matter Hunter's desires or intent, he eventually learns that sometimes things are simply out of his control. Written in spare but elegant free verse, Closing Down Heaven is a quick read full of big ideas that will encourage teens to consider their own ideas on life and death.
— CM Magazine