Opening Line: “Daisy, California Population 2,726."
You’d think with a title like “Mourning Heaven” I would have been prepared though, especially after already having my heart shredded (in a good way) by several of Lane’s other books. I was expecting angst and pain here but I was also expecting awesomeness or at least something redeeming or hopeful to cling to throughout this sad story. But with every page angst-riddled and every character broken, tormented and grief stricken this was ultimately just exhausting.
“Oh shit he was disintegrating, dissolving, coming apart again and Peter needed to be there for once, someone needed to be there to catch Bodi as he fell. Peter was up and wrapping his arms around Bodi before one more painful word happened and Bodi was crying like he hadn’t cried when (spoiler) and Peter was crying with him because this was Michael Bodi was crying about and Michael had hurt and Michael had broken and he hadn’t let them fix him and now he would never be fixed and they’d always be a little bit broken in their souls where he’d left a Michael shaped hole.”
Peter moved to the small prejudiced town of Daisy at the age of 12. He’d moved around a lot in his short life and while his mother loved him she was just never able to provide for him eventually depositing him with his Aunt Aileen and her son Michael. It wasn’t all bad though because there was Michael. For Peter his cousin is the sun and the moon, he is everything good and strong and protective and right in the world. Just to hear him breathing through the thin bedroom walls at night makes him feel like everything is going to be okay. And then there’s Michael’s friend Bodi, the boy that Peter loves from the moment he sets eyes on him. Of course it’s not easy being gay in a town like Daisy the church is …well very vocal in its views on that sort of evil behavior and everyone in this backwards town goes to church so it’s not a place you want to be out.
“He’d told his mother that he thought boys were more beautiful than girls, and she’d told him that he would have to be either brave or quiet about that, especially in Daisy.”
The meat of this story however takes place years later; Peter is now 23 and the only one still living in Daisy. Michael his hero, his everything who he hasn’t seen in 6 years is finally coming home and Peter now has the task of finding Bodi and bringing him back too because Michael is coming home in a casket. Slowly we the readers learn what happened 6 years ago that splintered the trio, sending Bodi off in the middle of the night into parts unknown and Michael to the nearest recruiting office where he enlisted in the service.
Together Bodi and Peter have to get through their grief and pay homage to Michael, restoring his motorcycle and giving him a proper send-off while trying to get through the hate, ignorance and prejudice that this town tends to feed on. Bodi is so broken that it will be a miracle if he survives even with Peter’s love and Peter; well he has to learn that even heroes aren’t perfect.