All We Know of Heaven

Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
All We Know of Heaven Book Poster Image
Ripped-from-headlines story of mistaken identity.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Someone sells a cell-phone picture of Maureen in the hospital to a British magazine, which is posted on the Internet; someone posts a "MyPlace" picture of Maureen's face Photoshopped on a topless body after she forgetfully answers the door in her underwear. Bridget's family is cruel to Maureen. The media stalk family members and other people related to the accident. Bridget's father yells at Danny for mentioning Maureen during his speech at Bridget's funeral. Maureen's friends stop visiting her at the hospital. The girls' friends and Maureen's family start competing blogs, with some nasty comments posted. Danny's parents try to force him to break up with Maureen. Maureen stands up to a bully who calls her "Gimpo" and "Mental Girl."


Two teens are in a serious car accident; one dies and the other suffers severe brain trauma. There is some graphic description of the accident scene. Danny punches a guy who asks "Is it better with a gimp?" Bridget's mother vandalizes Maureen's new car, intimidates Maureen, and then files a false police report that Maureen attacked her. Bridget's younger sister mocks Maureen and scrapes her fingernails down her face.


Bridget and her long-term boyfriend Danny sleep together at homecoming. Maureen later has sex with Danny, with social repercussions for both. Nothing is explicit and birth control is clearly used.


One blog post called Molly a "cheerslut." Other mild profanity includes "piss off," "crap," and "smart ass."


Medical uses for Teflon and Super Glue, plus "MyPlace" is clearly "MySpace."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A bully threatens to put a joint in Maureen's locker to get her in trouble with the school administration. While drunk, Bridget's mother insults Maureen and grabs her hair.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book follows the aftermath of a car wreck with two teenage girls, one of whom dies. The survivor struggles to re-learn how to walk, talk, and care for herself. Mitchard also shows the dark side of the community's response to the accident, as friends exploit the media exposure and the family of the dead girl blames the one who lived. Topless cell phone pictures are even posted on the Internet. Teens in committed relationships have sex using birth control.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 and 15-year-old Written bylady of the library March 11, 2010

Thought provoking good read

This was a wonderful read, but I also wouldn't recommend it for tweens.
Kid, 12 years old May 24, 2009

Its awesome!

This is not bad and there might be some iffy stuff but is a nice story that teaches people about the world and that everything isn't perfect
Teen, 13 years old Written bysara4ever95 May 8, 2009


i like it 5/5

What's the story?

On their way to a cheerleading competition, 16-year-old best friends Bridget and Maureen are hit in a collision. The driver dies; the passenger, who was thrown 30 feet from the vehicle, survives, but is in a coma. With switching narrative perspectives, the reader enters the girl's head (she wonders if \"maybe being dead took getting used to, like cold water or the dentist\"), along with her parents, boyfriend, and friends. When she wakes up with brain damage, the girl can barely talk, but she tries to communicate one thing: I'm not who you think I am.

Is it any good?

Readers expecting an after-school special melodrama or a maudlin cautionary tale will instead find a layered, warts-and-all story here. It relates the impact of a car crash not only on its two victims but their families, friends, and whole community. Named an honorary prom princess, even the survivor knows it's just "because this thing happened to me." And with a modern, sick twist, someone posts a picture of her "smiling shyly in her tiara, on top of a gross topless photo on MyPlace."

Mitchard's imagery (purgatory is "sort of heaven's mudroom") and the omniscient narration gives intriguing insight into how events and people are perceived, but it also distances the reader instead of allowing them to get lost in the story. The momentum slows during the recovery, with an on-again, off-again romance woven in as the teens try to deal with the crash's repercussions. But the slower moments help readers develop a connection with sweet Maureen, who kisses a boy because she likes it and says whatever pops in her head because "in the brain, out the mouth."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the elevated risks for new teen drivers and reiterate safety tips. You can also talk about Internet etiquette. Have you ever seen damaging photos or comments posted of friends? What did they do about them? Also in the book, what role did the media have, if any, in the negative behavior that followed the accident? Can you think of real-life situations when the news media spawned more negative reaction from the public?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate