Monday, November 12, 2012

Heaven or Hell by Roni Teson ~ review

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: BalboaPress (August 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452554986
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452554983

This book is also available as an e-book.

Reviewed for

Following years of living in an alcoholic fog, Joe becomes an upstanding member of society-but only after he experiences a trip through Hell itself. Teresa creates her own Hell in current day Los Angeles where she struggles with her past while trying to raise her teenage son. Am I in Heaven or Hell, Angel wonders, as she floats restlessly from cloud to cloud, finding herself in constant pursuit of an earthly Teresa and not knowing why. Heaven or Hell is a story of tragedy, loss, and a triumphant life-changing resurrection when the lives of Joe, Teresa, and Angel collide in this world and beyond. . . .

My take on this book:
Juan Joseph Torres lived his life in an alcoholic and drug induced stupor for years. His life seemed to spiral out of control around the age of forty-five after some issues in his life were more than he could handle. His wife Marion had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, when his two daughters Angela and Teresa was in a car accident, that took the life of his daughter Angela who was only fifteen. Unable to handle the situation he drinks to excess and leaves his eighteen year old daughter Teresa to take care of his dying wife. It took years of abusing his body as well as a horrendous trip thru Hell to finally come back from the brink and become sober. With the help of his  good friend Father Benjamin he becomes a respected alcoholic counselor, but he never contacted his family.Now at the age of sixty-six he is dying and wants to see his daughter Teresa, and meet his fifteen year old grandson for the first time. Teresa is dealing with past issues of her own, and isn't sure that she wants to even meet with her father, little does Teresa know that Angel a spiritual being has been connected to her for some time. Angel isn't sure who she is or why she is connected to Teresa or her family. Will Joe and Teresa be able to take care of their past issues, and what about Angel will she finally figure out who she is?

"Heaven or Hell" by Roni Teson allows us to glimpse a story of a family whose dysfunctional past really shaped their future. From the beginning pages the author creates a story that left me on the edge of my seat wondering how it would play out.  Joe Torres and his friend Father Benjamin are trying to locate a homeless man on Skid Row, when suddenly Joe collapses, and we learn that he is dying.As the story unfolds we see what a wonderful selfless man he has become, but more than that we are allowed to see the depths of despair that he fell to and how someone from his past haunted as well as tried to guide him. The spiritual aspects of this story were just amazing. I enjoyed the tranquil place that Angel was in, and her two doggie companions were a wonderful touch for me because I am such an animal lover.

Roni Teson storytelling ability breaths life into the characters of "Heaven or Hell." Each character is easy to connect with,because you can  believe that life could actually happen just as it did for them.The realness of the plot and characters is what made this story resonate with me. A heart touching story, that pulled me in and allowed me to feel  empathy, sadness, and hope where they were concerned. Because Joe is facing the end of his life, and we are allowed to glimpse his out of body experiences, it had me thinking about my own spirituality. This was a book that I truly hated to see end.


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