Review: Heaven by Virginia Andrews

Heaven, the first book in the Casteel family series written by Virginia Andrews was published in 1985 before the death of Virginia Andrews, who fell victim to Breast Cancer in 1986. Heaven is the second novel series written by Virginia Andrews and follows the life of Heaven Leigh Casteel, a young girl who is raised in the Willies by a poor family in a dilapidated shack. Her father Luke Casteel is a handsome, yet abusive man and her step-mother Sarah is a harsh woman driven mad and hateful by her husbands neglect and abuse. Sarah soon leaves her young children to fend for themselves after the birth of her stillborn child and her mother in law Annie. Heaven is then left in charge of her four younger siblings and her ageing grandfather. Luke Casteel continues to dart in and out in the story, leaving to chase women and dangerous jobs, returning only to bring food just in time before his children starved to death.
Heaven Leigh Casteel manages to find love in this dark, twisted story but is soon faced with losing her brothers and sisters as one by one they are sold by Luke Casteel to those in need of children, or slaves. Heaven is soon sold to a new family and things begin to look up for her, but she soon finds that the wealthy life she is sold into is no better then her life in the Willies. After a series of tragic and page turning events, Heaven finds herself in the Boston airport, seeking out her biological grandparents and a better life.

I was filled with reservation towards Heaven, unsure if I could go from the Dollenganger series and into the Casteel series. I started reading Flowers in the Attic when I was about fifteen and from there I finished Petals on the Wind and got half way through If There Be Thorns, a painful book to read which is unfortunate considering my love for her other books. When I was presented with Heaven I was unsure, after indulging in the Dollenganger family series it can be hard to transition into another family. Despite my reservations I turned the cover page and began to enter into the world of Heaven. Throughout reading this book I found myself intrigued by her world and I truly felt like what happened to Heaven Leigh Casteel was indeed happening to me. As a result I found myself hating who she hated, loving who she loved and crying when she cried. Virgnia Andrews descriptive writing is truly captivating and really brings your into her books and surround you with all the feelings and emotions felt by the protagonist. If you’re looking for an investment, more then just entertainment, then I strongly suggest you get your hands on Heaven, it is so far, one of my favourite books by Virginia Andrews, may she Rest In Peace.

Silent Pain

Dark skies, black clouds
Hanging over my head
Starry night, midnight fights
Screaming, crying, slamming doors
Is this what love is for?

Imprisoned by darkness,
Trapped inside myself
I keep screaming but no one can hear
Silence, deafening silence
The walls are closing in,
It is getting harder to breath
Help me, help me!

Light in darkness, darkness hides
Shadows lurk, midnight hurts
Lonely feelings, sinking deeper
Inside my mind it hurts

Cast your shadows, hide in the dark
Seek no help, no lives lost
No lives but one, but no one cares
A little line, a bit of blood
Scars tell stories of strength that lost
Handful of pills, stomach cramps
Sleep till morning, they’ll find me dead.

(so this is my first ever proper poem. Sorry it’s a bit dark, literally the first things that came to my mind…maybe I should get help)

Anxiety and Depression

First off let me just say that this is a very touchy topic but it is a very important one. Too many people are afraid to acknowledge the dark cloud that hovers over others, weighing them down and casting shadows over their lives.

My first experience with Depression was when my life got turned on its head. When my dad left us I found myself spiraling down, so much had happened in so little time. I was going through the transition into High School, dealing with losing and making new friends and maintaining my grades as well as having to watch my family fall apart. Divorce is like dropping a stone into a still river, the ripples go on forever. I was of course one of those ripples, when my dad left it really made me start to question who I was and what it meant to be a child from a broken home. I did blame myself for a while, I hated my dad for a while too but mostly I found myself just sad all the time.

My grades began to slip and I felt myself sinking deeper into myself and soon enough that cloud began to form over my head. It’s a hard thing to bear especially when you have no idea what it is, I didn’t know what depression was because I was never really told anything about it. The first lot of counselling I ever had was after my dad left, but still the woman didn’t teach me about depression and that I was now at risk of becoming depressed. Now, depression doesn’t come alone…he brings his friend anxiety with him. Anxiety is a quiet friend who follows you and your depression cloud around for awhile and you often forget that he’s there until you have to do something you’ve never done before or had a bad experience doing once. That is when anxiety pops in and starts pulling on your arm, begging you to go the other way and to stop what you’re doing.

“What will others think?” he screams.
“What if people laugh at you.”
“What if what you’re saying is wrong.”
and then depression starts backing him up,
“Nobody likes you anyway.” he starts.
And eventually you feel so sick that you do miss words and people do make fun of you and so you go back to your corner with just you, your depression and his buddy anxiety.

After a while depression is no longer a cloud, he has become a shadow and has latched onto you. You are now your depression and your life becomes black, you start looking for ways to silence anxiety who has found his voice and pipes up every time a thought crosses your mind, and depression always backs up his friend.

It was at this point that I made possibly the worst decision in my life. I was sitting alone on my top bunk, crying myself to sleep and thinking about my life. Anxiety and Depression were fueled up at this point, they were bouncing around and really making a song and dance about everything.
“No one will miss you” depression told me.
“Their lives will be easier,” he smiled.
Anxiety took a look at his friend depression and felt uneasy, but said nothing…he just kept swimming around, making me feel sick. It was then that I used the only thing I had to try and take my own life…my hands.

Here I was, fourteen years old with my hands around my throat with depression egging me on. This is the part I am grateful of, it got to the point where I was choking that God showed up. He came to me as a thought, a shining light that silenced depression and anxiety for a few moments.
“Think about your family,” he told me, “think about all the good times and know that I Am here.”
To this day this brings tears to my eyes.
I pulled my hands away, turned my back on anxiety and depression and cried myself to sleep. Anxiety and depression still hung around, but they weren’t as loud after that, I still wasn’t doing any better at school but I managed to keep my head above water. When I got closer to God, depression started to pack his things…he still visits me from time to time but for the most part he’s gone. Anxiety is still attached and he pipes up when I meet new people or am in an unknown place…but thanks to Lukas I am doing a lot more things and forcing Anxiety out of his comfort zone.

Depression tried to make a come back the other day, he tried putting ideas in my head that my life was over and that I had nothing more to accomplish but I am proving him wrong by making this post. I am beating depression and anxiety, one day at a time. I just want to say this to all those out there who are at the point I was or who feel themselves getting there I just want you to know that it does get better…I know that it sounds cliche but it really does get better. Just look up, smile and hold your head high. Depression and Anxiety have no power when you stop listening to them.

Keep smiling 🙂