Angela Johnson finishes the Heaven Trilogy started in Heaven and The First Part Last with the story of Shoogy Maple. Shoogy leaves home for reasons she isn’t completely sure of and lands at the cabin of Curtis Johnson a young man she has talked to only a few times before. Curtis takes her in without a question and their relationship begins to grow. But as Shoogy is finding peace for the first time Curtis is running from the past, his memories of serving in Iraq, and the dangers the future hold for him. When all this catches up to him Shoogy learns the pain of first love lost.
Sweet, Hereafter is told entirely from Shoogy’s point of view and this works well because she is a funny and intelligent young woman. Johnson’s writing is deceptively simple. She uses as few words as possible to convey the most emotion and depth she can, so this is a short read that stays with you long after you put it down. I would suggest reading Heaven and The First Part Last before you read this one though, because the characters and situations referenced will make more sense if you do. It is absolutely no surprise that Johnson has won the prestigious Coretta Scott King award three times. She is one of the best writers of African American characters working in Young Adult Literature today.