top of page

Recent Posts



The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu

Pelecanos mentioned this book in one of his own books when a prison librarian gave it to an inmate… so I was interested in checking it out myself. The main character, Sepha Stephanos fled an Ethiopian revolution after witnessing soldiers beat his father to death and then sold his folks jewelry given to him be his mother to seek passage to the United States. He now runs a grocery store in Logan Circle, DC. His companions are two fellow African immigrants – a Kenyan engineer and a Congolese waiter.  They all share feelings of frustration with and bitter nostalgia for their home continent. When Sepha arrived, he lived with his Uncle who believed the future could be filled with only bigger and better things. Sepha thought of himself only as poor, black, and an immigrant… ghosts of his family attached to his back. We find out his father was beaten to death because of flyers (Students for Democracy) that Sepha was a part of. The father said the flyers belonged to him. Sepha luck changes after a professor and her daughter move in next door and fix up their place. Judith and Sepha strike up a friendship that leads to…… while the daughter Naomi, hangs at the store after school and reads with Sepha. The relationships intertwine beautifully in reality – not the happy ending you may want. Which is the point – life doesn’t ever work that way. We wish it did but it doesn’t. There’s a power to that phrase and thoughts – going back home – an understanding that what you return to can never be the same as you left it in your memories.


bottom of page