Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Strange Heaven

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Strange Heaven

Anchor Canada, 2002

Strange Heaven is tearfully hilarious, as funny and appalling as real life. Bridget Murphy, almost eighteen, has gone to Halifax from industrial Cape Breton, had her baby, and given it up for adoption. She’s apathetic, the doctors decide, so they transfer her to the psych ward of the children’s hospital. There, she’s cooped up with five seriously disturbed teenagers and a flock of wan children.

Sent home for Christmas, Bridget faces domestic uproar. Her grandmother, Margaret P., raves and prays from her bed, banging the wall with her bedpan. Bridget’s kind-hearted parents, Robert and Joan, also take care of Robert’s mentally handicapped brother, Rollie. Joan’s efforts to keep the lid on are no match for Robert’s wild profanity, Margaret’s dementia, and Rollie’s efforts to join the fray.

Bridget’s boozy friends, her whining ex-boyfriend, and the family chaos make up a “strange heaven” in which her apathy starts to lift. Her vague plan to hibernate at home forever is off. Whatever she does, her drifting days are over.