All We Know of Heaven
by Mitchard, Jacquelyn

When Maureen and Bridget, two sixteen-year-old best friends who look like sisters, are in a terrible car accident and one of them dies, they are at first incorrectly identified at the hospital, and then, as Maureen achieves a remarkable recovery, she must deal with the repercussions of the accident, the mix-up, and some choices she made while she was getting better.

Both 16, Bridget and Maureen, best friends and neighbors in small-town Minnesota, look a lot alike, and when Maureen's car crashes and the driver dies, everyone assumes that Maureen has been killed and it's Bridget who lingers in a coma. Later, however, dental records prove that it's Maureen who has survived, and Bridget's family and boyfriend must suddenly cope with their grief, while Maureen's family joyfully helps her through the months of recovery. The situation may be highly dramatic, but details seem to overwhelm the story-along with minutiae of Maureen's brain injury, therapy, and recovery, come the emotions of the family members who find themselves suddenly in mourning. There's also Maureen's relationship with Danny (kind, wise, and totally gorgeous), with whom she has sex. Give this to readers who like descriptive stories; they'll relish the specifics and be caught up by the tabloid drama, as well as by the survivor guilt that makes Maureen feel as if she's being punished for living. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Mitchard tugs at readers' hearts with a teen novel about death, a stunning miracle and love lost then gained. Best friends Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley are in a horrific car crash. One of the girls is dead. The O'Malley family is told it was Maureen and they bury their "daughter." The other girl lingers in a life-threatening coma and is thought to be Bridget. Because they had the same height and hair color, hospital workers have innocently switched the victims' identities. When the actual Maureen emerges from her coma six weeks later, grief and joy explode for both families. Patterned after the true 2006 incident of Whitney Cerak and Laura VanRyn, Mitchard's work has the markings of a page-turning tear-jerker. However, after a riveting opening 80 pages, the story begins to flatline. Too much of the novel's plot is spent on Bridget's former boyfriend, Danny Carmody, who switches his interest from a dead to a living girl by dating Maureen. The depiction of two families dealing with survivor guilt is this story's strength. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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