Ellis, Deborah. The Heaven Shop.

Author:Rosser, Claire
Position:Young Adult Review - Book Review

ELLIS, Deborah. The Heaven Shop. Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 186p. c2004. 1-55041-908-0. $16.95. J

The Heaven Shop sells coffins that will "take you swiftly to heaven." And coffins are much needed in Malawi, because AIDS is killing so many people. Binti is 13 years old when the story begins. She is successful on a radio show and she and her brother and sister are doing well in a private school. Binti's older sister June has cared for them for several years, since the death of their mother. Now the children's father is very ill and soon he dies of AIDS. The relatives are the first to gather and inform the children both parents died of AIDS, and therefore they too are tainted. The relatives take over all assets left to the children and force them to relocate, where the three work in terrible conditions for their relatives. June, the older sister, takes up prostitution as a way of earning money, and by the end of the story, she too is infected with H.I.V.

Meanwhile, Binti leaves the cruel relatives and journeys to find her elderly grandmother who is living in abject poverty, trying to care for a group of little children whose parents are dead or dying from AIDS. Her brother ends up in prison for "stealing" food from his uncle, but fortunately friendly community workers help the three siblings reunite. Binti finally finds herself again after...

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