Pub date: May 1, 1998
Winner, 1998 Thomas Head Raddall Award
Winner, 1998 Canadian Authors' Association Air Canada Award
Winner, 1998 Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)
Winner, 1998 Atlantic Independent Booksellers' Choice Award
Shortlist, 1998 Governor General's Award for Fiction
Strange Heaven is tearfully hilarious, as funny and appalling as reality. Bridget Murphy, almost eighteen, has come to Halifax from industrial Cape Breton, had her baby, and given it up for adoption.
Transferred to the psych ward of the children's hospital, she's incarcerated with five seriously disturbed teenagers and a flock of wan children. She's depressed, they say. Apathetic. Bridget is a bit detached, but Four South is peaceful compared with the chaos back home. Her grandmother, Margaret P., raves and prays from her bed, banging the wall with her bedpan. Bridget's parents, Robert and Joan, take care of her and her mentally handicapped son, Rollie. Joan tries to keep the lid on, but she's no match for Robert's wild profanity, Margaret's dementia, and Rollie's efforts to join the fray. Uncle Albert, a kind man who saves his eloquent wrath for outsiders, springs Bridget from the hospital for Christmas. But home is more chaotic than ever, and she's sick of her boozy friends and the whining of the baby's father. She had half planned to hibernate at home till kingdom come, but it's become like a lurid movie she saw eons ago and she's forgotten the plot. Her future may be unclear, but she has a good idea of the direction it won't take.