Coming to my first reading of Heaven Eyes after having already experienced a number of other Almond novels, I found it both familiar and strange - familiar in part because it was strange, but also strange in ways less familiar. As Michael Levy says, ‘The amazing thing about Almond’s work, of course, is that everything ties together.’1 Heaven Eyes clearly occupies the same imaginative territory as the rest of Almond’s books, and similarly evokes a characteristic concrete and naturalistic yet decidedly magical atmosphere. But it stands apart from the novels for older child readers I discussed in an earlier chapter in this book by having a female protagonist. That makes a sizeable difference. It seems to lead the novel into intriguingly ambivalent combinations of features - types of characters and images - that are separate and even opposite in the novels about boys. As a result, Heaven Eyes seems even more assertive than Almond’s other novels in its claims to a meaningfulness beyond its surface events, and in its invitation for readers to attempt to interpret those events in order to discover that meaning - and even more resistant to a satisfyingly complete interpretation. After spending some time with the novel and comparing it with Almond’s other books, I think I understand a lot about it. But for all that, I also have the sense that I do not really understand it at all, that whatever interpretations I have come up with seem to describe a text much less resonant and evocative than the satisfyingly mysterious one Almond actually wrote.
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