The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store A Novel – Kindle edition by McBride, James. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ .

60 reviews

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store A Novel – Kindle edition by McBride, James. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ .

SKU: B0BPNP7YQB Category:




Publisher ‏ : ‎ Riverhead Books (August 8, 2023)

Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 8, 2023

Language ‏ : ‎ English

File size ‏ : ‎ 1895 KB

Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled

Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported

Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled

X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled

Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled

Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe

Print length ‏ : ‎ 400 pages

Best Sellers Rank: #2 in Black & African American Literary Fiction

Customer Reviews: 45,677 ratings

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Additional information

ASIN ‏ : ‎


Publisher ‏ : ‎

Riverhead Books (August 8, 2023)

Publication date ‏ : ‎

August 8, 2023

Language ‏ : ‎


File size ‏ : ‎

1895 KB

Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎


Screen Reader ‏ : ‎


Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎


X-Ray ‏ : ‎


Word Wise ‏ : ‎


Sticky notes ‏ : ‎

On Kindle Scribe

Print length ‏ : ‎

400 pages

Best Sellers Rank:

#2 in Black & African American Literary Fiction

Customer Reviews:

45,677 ratings

60 reviews for The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store A Novel – Kindle edition by McBride, James. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ .

  1. Sheila N.

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    A Masterpiece!

    This was my first time reading a book by Mr. James McBride. This book is a heartwarming novel about race, religion, and history.This novel needs to be immediately adapted into a movie! I would definitely go see it. Well done, Mr. McBride!

  2. Jay Williams

    5.0 out of 5 stars


    I had to pause several times while reading because this book was so emotional and difficult. Persevere. It was worth the laughs, the anger and the tears. Thank you, Monkey Pants.

    One person found this helpful

  3. Howard Walter

    5.0 out of 5 stars


    Character development is phenomenal storytelling, a treasure and the people all feel real and truthful without being too morbid or depressing. It recreates the time of of transition that is very important to remember it.

    One person found this helpful

  4. Prufreader

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    I can’t stop thinking about it

    Stunning. This book lingers. All of the characters (and there are so many!), no matter how minor they seem, have a purpose. The complexity of the way the story weaves together all the people and their contributions is genius. Perfect choice for a book group because you will want to talk about it.

  5. Mathlady

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    The best book

    Loved this book. I had a smile on my face when I got to the end. A reality great, uplifting read.

  6. Claudia Bolcik

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    diversity equity, and inclusion,

    I liked the diversity of characters and the kindness and generosity throughout the story. And the way racism was depicted was chilling.

    One person found this helpful

  7. Elizabeth A. Sheridan

    5.0 out of 5 stars


    What a wonderful story and so eloquently written. This book had so many messages that need to be heard. I loved it and cried like a baby at the end. Keep writing Mr. McBride. I look forward to more of your literary genius.

  8. Kindle Customer

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    A tribute to America

    There we are. With all our racism, superstition, colors, ethnicities and more laid bare. This reader was transfixed by the weaving threads of McBride’s story and his marvelous, flawed, lovable characters. Even the villains are understood; even the killers appreciated

  9. Krystyna

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Great Read!

    Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Well written and vivid story about the life and struggles of the blacks as well as the immigrants that came and shaped America. Heart warming to see that there is much good and kindness in people, unfortunately mixed in with evil.

    One person found this helpful

  10. Acorn T.

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    wonderful book

    We chose this for our bookclub of 11 members. All in the bookclub agreed that this was one of our favorite choices to date.

    One person found this helpful

  11. switterbug/Betsey Van Horn

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    It does move heaven and earth for the reader

    James McBride is an accomplished saxophonist/jazz musician. I knew that going into the book. (Oh, digression–did you know that he also played with the band, The Remainders? That’s a band with other writers like Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, Maya Angelou and several others who played for charity and fundraising). Anyway, I mention his musicianship because I see it all over the pages of The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store.This is the first book I’ve read by McBride (definitely more to come), so pardon my schoolgirlish, giggly first crush for the way that his writing lifts me up, how his words and characters opened my heart, only to break it, and then put it back together in a most absolute and tender way. James McBride is a kind, gentle soul, and his writing reflects this—his ability to bring the world together in a novel. He honors humanity. We are all connected, and this author compels that naturally from his characters. Now, how great is that, yeah?I want to put this in your hands and promise you a magnificent reading experience. It starts off in a shaggy dog kind of way, with an ensemble of characters, several who possess whimsical names like Fatty, Big Soap, Monkey Pants, Dodo. And their names fit flawlessly to their nature. The story starts with a 1972 prologue—a human skeleton is found in an old abandoned well, and then the body of the story begins in 1936 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a place called Chicken Hill, where Jews, immigrants, and Black folks lived side by side, sometimes in harmony, other times in discord, but here’s the thing—the goodness of people, the kindness of their hearts—that is what ultimately rises to the top.For the story to unfold, there has to be some sinister aspects, too—aren’t we still fighting the fight of ignorance, bigotry, corruption, meanness? But, in the McBride world, well, we also follow the long stretch of yarn as it wends around this way and that, through streets and backyards, dirt roads, onto hills and a shul and a church, through tunnels and a dance hall. And The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store.I don’t need to rehash the plot, but there are a few fun facts about this book worth mentioning in a review. Such as, there are an abundance of characters introduced early on, and then again later on, before the plot actually launches. That’s the shaggy part. We don’t get to the plot too quickly—instead, Mcbride takes his time, builds the characters. They are already leaping off the pages by the time the plot rolls in.There are subplots, too, but in the end, they all weave their chords and come together. McBride may slow your roll at first, but it’s a winning bonanza of breadth and depth, from the smallest detail to the broadest design. Scenes that seem initially inconsequential become key notes later on.Early on, we meet the arresting Jewess, Chona. Chona is an unforgettable female protagonist—I’m keeping her in my journal of best. female. characters. ever. She is handicapped with a limp—but her limp doesn’t stop her strength of purpose, her fierce dignity, her bounteous benevolence, her gentle grace, and her consummate integrity. You will fall in love with her, just like Moshe, the theater and dance hall owner, did. Moshe and Chona dared to welcome change and inclusivity to their part of the world.At this time, in the 1930s, Black people were almost exclusively cast in menial jobs. But Moshe books Black jazz bands to play at his theater, and successfully includes all tribes together at the dance hall, who “frolicked and laughed, dancing as if they were birds enjoying flight for the first time.” Chona runs the grocery store, and extends credit to anyone who can’t afford to pay; she rarely keeps a record of their debt. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store may lose money, but it is rich in goodwill and kindness.Back to this being like a musical book—a jazzy book. Jazz music conjures that raspy, soulful, edgy flavor, blended from a mix of cultures and harmonies. McBride embraces those diverse, insistent, zingy, soul-stirring rhythms and blues into the narrative threads of his novel. I can hear the swing and the chase, the boogie and the blues, the sounds that go everywhere at once and jelly roll the story within a complex set of fusion and feelings. It’s also just a damned good story!The narrative pulls you here and there, up and down, and when you meet Dodo, the sweet and barely teenaged deaf kid, your protective instincts will wrap yourself around him and never want to let him go. And, when Dodo meets Monkey Pants—well, this right there—the heart of the novel that will break you in pieces.At times, I had a wellspring of tears—not just for joy or anguish. Sure, comedy and tragedy fill these pages. But McBride’s natural humanity and gentle nature is the colossal, phenomenal heart of the book. The author steps aside, he doesn’t ever intrude. The core of the narrative are the characters. Their cacophony becomes a coda for living large.This tale made me want to be better, to do better, to open my eyes to all the missed connections, to fix the broken chords and forge new ones, and seek eternally to strengthen them. We are humanity, we are the essential substance to add love to the world, one modest good deed at a time. That is The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store.

    936 people found this helpful

  12. Erika Tunson

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    4.5 Stars for The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store (if I could give a half)!

    The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store poignant look at relationships, redemption, racism and the American dream. The author, James McBride introduces us to a series of characters living in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, focusing on the residents of a community called Chicken Hill in the 1930s. Chicken Hill is home to Pottstown’s Jewish immigrants, Blacks coming from the South during The Great Migration and immigrants from other European countries. The Heaven & Earth grocery store is owned by a Jewish couple, Chona and Moshe and serves the residents of Chicken Hill. The novel is mostly centered around a 12 year old deaf boy named Dodo, but each character introduced (and there are a lot) also has a story. I gave 4.5 stars because the book has a slow start and it is hard to keep the characters straight, but stick with it! As the book progresses and there is an incident involving Dodo, the characters and their stories begin to connect and the result is an emotional, touching, sometimes infuriating, engrossing story. McBride tells the story in an interesting way with complex dialogue and character development through flashbacks and memories that explain how and why they are the way they are as the events with Dodo begin to unfold and every character is involved or becomes involved in some way. I both read and sometimes listened to The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store and enjoyed both.

    51 people found this helpful

  13. Joyce Pryor

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Riveting and Beautiful

    This book was a slow start for me, and although it was flush with interesting characters, I became enmeshed with the story when the character of Dodo was introduced. This is a story about America, about the human capacity to love and see people for who they are, it is a lesson in diversity and all of its components. I particularly loved the character of Shona and wish there were more people like her that embodied her spirit and grace along with her husband Moshe. The interesting dynamics of those that lived on the hill, the low country, and the immigrants the came to live in Pottstown PA, is a wonderful and interesting insightful ode to American history and I loved it! As for Monkey Pants, we all need friends like him. McBride’s explanation on why he wrote the book was incredibly interesting and should not be overlooked.

    11 people found this helpful

  14. DJ

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Brilliant story — lives up to all the accolades!

    “Moshe had few friends. Most of Pottstown’s Jews had left Chicken Hill by then. Nate was a friend, but he was a Negro, so there was that space between them.” (p62)This is a brilliantly written, extraordinary story: at once sad and hopeful, tragic and humorous. It absolutely lives up to all the accolades.Despite “the skeleton in the well” mentioned in the first line of the book, this isn’t a conventional who-done-it. Yes, the mystery of the skeleton hovers quietly over the story, but it’s largely in the background in a narrative about the difficult lives of a diverse group of small-town, lower-class folks trying to get by. Prejudice and discrimination mix with accommodation and friendship, suspicions and mistrust bump up against shared experience and the best of humanity. And the dialog – oh the dialog! “So he balled up his fist…and I mean that white boy reached back and sent that big fist of his rambling through four or five states before it said hello to Fatty. It started in Mississippi, gone up through the Carolinas, stopped for coffee in Virginia, picked up steam coming outta Maryland…and boom! He liked to part Fatty from this world.” Or this: “Bernice had the kind of face that would make a man wire home for money.” And this: “…it’s not technically illegal. But we gotta do it at night.”Ultimately this book is an invitation to appreciate the value of empathy and respect. It’s a powerful reminder that we’re all in this together. And yes – it’s a delight to read.

    75 people found this helpful

  15. C. Perez

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Assured, Propulsive, Scathing writing

    In the neighborhood of Chicken Hill, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in June 1972, police found a skeleton, wearing a gold chain with a mezuzah, at the bottom of a well, next to a lot that had been torn down a day earlier to make way for a new neighborhood. They visited the home of the only Jew left on Chicken Hill, on account of the mezuzah; his home stood on the site that almost half a century earlier had been the local synagogue. Because of this, he was deemed a suspect, though he would never face charges. He skipped town almost immediately, and days later the neighborhood was reduced to rubble by a devastating hurricane.Forty-seven years earlier, in 1925, young theater-manager Moshe Ludlow bet the little money he had saved on hiring a famous musical act to play at his small venue. Jews from all over the Northeast came to dance and frolic. Moshe recovered his investment many times over. He married Chona Yakov, the brilliant daughter of the local rabbi, and settled in Chicken Hill, which was then a vibrant community home to Blacks and Jews. As years went by, most affluent Jews moved downtown. Chona refused to move out. Moshe and Chona owned a two-story building that housed the neighborhood’s only store on the first floor, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, and their home on the second floor. The store was a losing business on account of Chona’s kindness, but it was a regular hangout spot and neighbors loved it.Over the next twelve years, Chicken Hill, and the world at large, undergo seismic changes—the local KKK chapter gains popularity, Nazism rises in Europe, and America’s immigrants begin to question their new way of life. Among all these social changes, Chicken Hill’s inhabitants undergo personal upheavals as well, but their sense of community remains strong despite the adversities that come their way.The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is a novel in three parts and an epilogue, told by an omniscient narrator, about the ups and downs of a community between the years 1925-1936, in an ever-changing world. It touches on several themes, such as racial politics, inequality, sexual violence, disability, sense of community and belonging, friendship, and karmic justice.The first thing that struck me as I settled into the story was McBride’s assured, propulsive, scathing writing. Despite being an ensemble kind of story, each individual character shines thoroughly, so the reader gets to know each character’s motivations, inner life, idiosyncrasies. I haven’t been that crazy about an ensemble cast of characters as I was with these. The curmudgeons in the story are some of the most sympathetic people in it.The Heaven… is by no means a happy novel; there are weighty issues and sadness overload, but they are treated so compassionately and so beautifully that the reader will root for these underdogs.

    118 people found this helpful

  16. MK

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    excellent book!

    So well written, each character is well developed and so memorable. I will look forward to reading more of James McBride’s books!

    5 people found this helpful

  17. MCK

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Great book!

    This novel transports you to a 1920s and 1930s Jewish and Black neighborhood. It could have been written by a world reknown comedian plus history teacher, plus a person from the era’s witness protection program, if they had one. Amusing, fast and unbelivable quick and witty dialogue; loveable characters strongly drawn. It is possible to have misty eyes on the last page. Don’t miss this 5 star book. I found it amazing!

    4 people found this helpful

  18. Melanie Supan Groseta

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Hauntingly Soulful

    My favorite section of this book was the author’s acknowledgment of Sy Friend, the retired director of The Variety Club Camp for Handicapped Children in Worchester, Pennsylvania, an apparent beacon of love and humanity in the world.I had known nothing of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, with its Jewish immigrant families in the late twenties and early thirties and its African-Americans who had moved to the northern states from the south. I learned about tallits, jook joints and the prevalence of dance halls for entertainment during that era prior to the Second World War. I got an in-depth snapshot into the way people lived and engaged each other in the struggling neighborhood of Chicken Hill. I learned about the informal segregation of class, religious culture and race in small-town Pennsylvania and the ominous presence of the Ku Klux Klan and its annual march that was pretty much tolerated quietly by all.I enjoyed meeting the various primary characters—the heartful Chona, (the pivotal owner of the Heaven and Earth grocery store,) her husband, Moshe, the silent Nate, his loving wife, Addie, the mysterious Bernice, and the deaf boy, Dodo. They were colorful, soulful people, whose lives enriched the satellite community of Chicken Hill.The plotline of the novel was intriguing and satisfyingly redemptive. Even though the writing itself felt at times cumbersome and verbose, with lengthy, run-on sentences and digressions about minor characters, this was a haunting book. Speaking to its subtle and not-so-subtle intolerance for “the other” lacing the streets of America, the small acts of love and courage penetrated deeply into my psyche and are not to be forgotten.

    18 people found this helpful

  19. Jersey Danielle

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    A Jazz Man’s Blues

    James McBride is a jazz aficionado and his latest tome reads like jazz, the way it can careen into cacophony and make meaning from sonic dissonance. He sets the stage for his unconventional tale with vivid storytelling and imagery. The Black and Jewish residents of Pottstown, PA spring to vibrant life in the pages of “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store.” McBride’s writing has a folkloric quality. It’s reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston, a melange of cultures, characters and accents rendered with the deft and detailed gaze of an anthropologist. Then suddenly and rather unexpectedly, the story veers into a very dark place. The residents of Chicken Hill spring into action to rescue one of their most vulnerable. It’s a story about people who exist along the margins of society but also, in a redemptive story arc, how they rally together to care for and celebrate their own.

    One person found this helpful

  20. Mr&Mrs

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Character-Driven, Slice-of-Life Tale; the Ending Pushed It to a 5 for Me

    There are numerous characters in this book, and some of them are the strong ones who drive the story. One bit of advice I have is do not get bogged down trying to keep a list of who everybody is in this 385 (print edition) book because that will ruin the reading experience. Readers will not have any trouble remembering the major important characters of Chicken Hill, a rural area of immigrants – Blacks, Jews from various countries, and poor immigrant Whites. Chona is the polio-crippled daughter of a rabbi whom Romanian-Jew Moshe finds attractive and full of humor, and it is Chona who runs the Heaven &Earth Grocery Store. Often, she extends credit so that her neighbors can eat, knowing that it is unlikely they can ever repay her in full.This is definitely a character-driven story; many pages are primarily dialogue. This is not a book that everyone will love because it might seem a bit slow in this day and age of thrillers. There are many flawed characters, but the difference between good guys and bad guys is whether a character exhibits any concern for others. (using “guys” as a generic human being, as in west coast people who say “you guys” meaning persons of any gender being spoken to). I would say that this is a book about humanity, about the importance of talking to people of other cultures and religions, trying to understand, and- above all- learning to get along for the betterment of our planet.At the end of chapter 7, a 10-year-old Black boy named Dodo is introduced. For me, Dodo’s experiences are what made the book a five star. i don’t want to say any more, but it is powerful.

    5 people found this helpful

  21. robindamezzo

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    MacBride Won A National Book Award and I Can See Why

    This is a very moving novel about the people of the Chicken Hill section of Pottstown, PA in 1936 ..and then 1972 after Hurricane Agnes levelled the town. It us the story of the Jews and African Americans living in Chicken Hill, particularly Chona and her husband Moshe and their grocery store and Addie and Nate, Dodo, Paper, Bernice, Miggie and their friends and relatives.This is the best novel I have read this year, and I would recommend this to every book club, and high school English class as well.

  22. ace_toad

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Slow Burn

    A story about folks set in a Pennsylvania town a generation ago, but the message rings true today. James McBride does an excellent job of creating perspective, to tell the whole story and yet not give anything out until he’s ready. I enjoyed the pacing and overall the message. I docked a star because you definitely have to give it all your attention and time to develop. But it is worth it.

  23. M. Vanderoef

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Really enjoyed

    This was a little different type book than I usually read ( mostly mystery)… but I really enjoyed this wonderful book! The characters were so real and the way they spoke was so typical of the time! Loved it!

  24. Suzn K. Stewart

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    a worthwhile read

    This book had a very slow plodding disconnected and often confusing start. Picking up speed it became more interesting as the unraveled pages began to meld together. The ending was very well done and a long time coming. Good conquers evil is Mr McBrides morale. It is interesting to read about former slave relatives suffering in the north mixed in with all the recent immagrees. A jobsell done

    One person found this helpful

  25. K. Maher

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    a great book!

    Not your typical book. Tackled subjects of racism and classism with humor and wit. With a good dose of history as well.

  26. Dave Schwinghammer

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Heart-Warming at Times, Puzzling in Others

    HEAVEN AND EARTH GROCERY STORE gives us a slice of a Jewish/black neighborhood in Pottsfield, Pennsylvania called Chicken Hill.From the title of the novel and the synopsis we expect this to feature a grocery store run by Chona and Moshe Ludlow, but there are numerous other characters who sometimes steal the show. Moshe runs a theater in the neighborhood that often caters to the black element. His right-hand man is Nate Timblin, a black man who seems to be a saint. Nate becomes a central character when a young deaf black boy is sent to a hospital/asylum for something he didn’t do. Chona was assaulted during what appeared to be an epileptic fit by Dr. Roberts who had been rejected by her. Dodo, the black boy, came to her rescue, but her hospitalization and ultimate demise was blamed on Dodo.It was then a veritable phalanx of characters enter the story. There’s Paper a beautiful black woman who functions as a newspaper, hence her nickname. There are Fatty and Big Soap, a black man with a thing for Paper, and his not too bright partner. They plot to get Dodo out of the asylum. Nate is integral in the plan and actually carries it out.But not before the climax of the story when Nate confronts the other villain (besides Dr. Roberts) who is known as “The Son of Man” at the asylum. He’s an orderly there but no one has the guts to confront this child abuser (Would the whole staff ignore a child abuser?). Poor Dodo is about to become a victim when the action swings in his favor. While at the asylum, Dodo is placed in a bed near a boy with cerebral palsy whom Dodo calls “Monkey Pants”. Monkey Pants can only communicate with one finger, using a form of Morse Code when he “talks” to Dodo. Author McBride has a facility with these minor characters, Monkey Pants being the most original. Monkey pants also has an original way to deal with TSOM when he tries to assault Dodo. Too original. He can only use one finger.I had a problem with the climax scene. The Egg Man shows up at the hospital to deliver eggs and coffee to his multiple customers at the sprawling institution, only to be confronted by the villain, The Son of Man. They get into a tussle, Nate coming to the rescue as TSOM abuses the Egg Man with a sock loaded with lead. Author McBride needs this guy to be there but there’s no reason for TSOM to be there other than for Nate to rescue The Egg Man and get him to take him to find Dodo. That’s called author intrusion and McBride does it more than once. McBride also needs TSOM to be there to reveal nice guy Nate’s lurid background.

    81 people found this helpful

  27. the googler

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    it’s raw, but edible!

    the heaven and earth grocery store doesn’t hold anything back with the narrative it wants to tell. it’s raw, uncomfortable at times, but it doesn’t sugarcoat anything which i appreciate. as much as i enjoyed reading the book, some of the perspective hopping threw me for a loop. i would recommend taking notes so you don’t lose track like i did. i bought this book for a school project, and i left the project still theorizing and rereading it. mcbride hit the nail on the head with this one! would absolutely recommend and read again.

  28. Nancy Johnson

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    A Rich Cultural Dive

    Great, fun read about a part of the country in a time I’m not familiar with. So interesting, the Jewish culture intertwined with the Black culture.. Loved it. I was sad the ride was over when it came to the last page.

    3 people found this helpful

  29. bbb

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    not sure what to think

    Disturbing, moving, rambling. A long sometimes slow read. But still couldn’t stop reading. Put it aside a few times but came back. Good finally wins out.

  30. ThePope01

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    so much character development

    You were introduced to each character and by the books’ end, they became old friends. You were invested in each one and wanted only good things for each of them.A lovely story.

  31. C.V.

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Heartwarming Story

    This book was very well written . The story kept my interest from beginning to end. The characters were portrayed so vividly that they almost felt like old friends!

  32. Cherry Kent

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Shining Light

    This book is a shining light I needed to see since the world has seemed quite dark the last 10 years or so. May we all be Chona, may we all be Nate, may we all be Monkey Pants.

    One person found this helpful

  33. Christina

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    A Fantastic Story—Highly Recommended!

    A fantastic story about humanity, and the lack of it. It is timeless and gives insight in what is needed to get people to function together, as a community. And what unfortunatley prevents it.

  34. Barbara

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Great book

    I became interested in reading this book after seeing many recommendations from Amazon promotions for it. While there were words in it I wasn’t familiar with, the story was great and had many colorful characters from diverse backgrounds who supported each other during trying times.

  35. Robert J. Hartwig

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Our Book Club Selection

    We had a lively discussion around this book which everyone enjoyed. Discussion revolved around characters, the sense of time and place created by the portrayal of Pottstown in the 1930s, ethnic rivalries and coalitions, and the good and evil in human nature. Negative impressions involved the very large number of characters, some with unresolved outcomes, and the somewhat contrived ending and Dodo’s rescue.

    One person found this helpful

  36. Margarine

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    your perseverance pays off in the end

    Quite a tale full of many characters. Some charming. Some pitiful. Some disgusting. But mostly GOOD. It takes a while to pick up steam but stick with it. I wanted to cry and laugh at once.

    One person found this helpful

  37. Amazon Customer

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Difficult and painful, but wonderful, book

    Beautifully crafted and rich telling of a complex story about race, hatred, love, loyalty, and much more. It was both painful and beautiful.

  38. Minerva

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Read More than Once

    One appreciates the telling of this novel. McBride is a master storyteller. Reading this novel makes one confident in the research and passion that went into its’ creation. The infusion of different peoples and cultures offers stories within stories. One ends at a much different place from the beginning. This is such a work of art another reader must experience it without this reader offering specific details. Must digest before the next read. As an aside, McBride’s last two novels are perfect as well.

    One person found this helpful

  39. Claudia L. Einertson

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Love One Another

    People are people, people! To me, this is yet another assurance that we people are mostly all alike. It also shows that some beings just shine with goodness. There is some deep and abiding love included. This world is composed of one family. Let’s all love one another, family!

    One person found this helpful

  40. Noel Carella

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Book is supposed to be good

    Haven’t started reading it yet. The things I like best is that it has big lettering its paperback, and the price is right.

    One person found this helpful

  41. Amazon Customer

    5.0 out of 5 stars


    I hated this book to end. The characters were complex leaving one in wonder and also feeling like old friends. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and it feels like the story could continue on and on.

    One person found this helpful

  42. Dorothy

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Big print was helpful.

    The story shows that something’s never change. We forget we’re all here for a short time and our exceptions of others is limited. And man has always been short sited in ruining the environment for profit.

  43. James Weaver

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Number of book reviews rate this highly.

    A number of characters and stories about Potsdam, Pennsylvania. Some are very sad, you soon find yourself immersed with each one. Negros, Jews, Whites, all living together with their very poor economic condition in a small and very polluted “Chicken Hill” community. Each character you feel that you know, however briefly they appear in the story.

  44. Grandmom

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Written well

    Was not able to finish reading. The subject matter was too depressing for me. However, the author writes well.

  45. Deborah A Magro

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    beautifully written

    Taste, touch and feel. I read this book in two days. I could not put it down. I could easily visualize each and every character. Loved it!!

  46. tigner

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, a great novel that was hard to put down

    Author James McBride has written another great book. After listening to a review on NPR, I was intrigued by this novel, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, and decided to check it out. The storyline is based on a segregated community of Blacks, Jews, and Italians, where everything revolves around a grocery store. This is the first novel i read from McBride. The book kept me wanting more. This is the best book I have read this year! (I have read 10 at the time of this review). McBride’s ability to weave in mystical magic or folklore spices up his storylines, giving readers the impression that the stories could be true. I have since read another book by McBride, Deacon King Kong. It too is an awesome read. I will be reading more of McBride’s novels

    11 people found this helpful

  47. Christine

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Writing in vibrant color

    If there is such a thing as writing in color, this book is it. Every single character, theme, and background was described with so much vibrancy and detail – you understood where everyone came from, what their circumstances were, and how they were weaved into this remarkable story of people from all different backgrounds, race, and ethnicities coming together for 1 purpose. You feel all the emotions while reading this book. Truly brilliant writing.

    2 people found this helpful

  48. TMPuyallup

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    good book

    It took me a little while getting into the story but it does get better the more you read

    One person found this helpful

  49. Michael Morrow

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    On time, as promised

    Fairly simple. Book arrived when promised, in the condition described. Not rocket science.

  50. Laurie E. Brugger

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    A learning tool between races

    This book is unlike any I’ve read. Based in the 30’s it shows how blacks, whites, Jewish are treated and their daily lives. Very sad parts, uplighting ending.


    4.0 out of 5 stars

    An important book to read

    I found this a complex book in the beginning perhaps because I know little about Judaism and struggled to determine the importance of the the numerous religious references to the story narrative. I found myself enjoying the book more and more with every passing chapter. An analogy might be seeing all the different color threads apart and watching them being woven from all corners towards the completion of a pattern in the middle. Nor could I guess how the story would end and was surprised at the way that the ends were finally tied. The events that occurred at the asylum brought back very mixed memories from 30+ years ago when I first had a college practicum and later employment at the state institution in Columbia, S.C. Sadly, very realistic portrayal.

  52. Amazon Customer

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    Truly A Great Book, Not to be Missed!

    I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of culture, class, race, religion in the U. S. and how all of these factors exist, interface, and grind out our unique cultural milieu with its features of capitalism, racism, and isolation. But also about those very personal success stories (people) who manage to live thru it and survive. And those miraculous people who emerge and help and sustain one another. All of this told in a fascinating prose that sweeps you up and is told with touches of humor, tragedy, heartbreaking cruelty that creates an eery prophecy of the human condition in America. A must read, must study best seller.

  53. Phil Hopkins

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    This is My Current Favorite Book

    This is my current, favorite book. I was not expecting anything special when my book club chose this book and I put off starting to read it. When I did pick it up and start to read, I was immediately transported to a time and place that is not far from where I actually live and to witness people and characters who have made a place in my heart forever. I am now eager to read other books by James McBride. He is a true treasure not to be missed. This kind of book is the reason I love books, bookstores and libraries knowing that from time to time, I will be rewarded with a book such as this.

    2 people found this helpful

  54. sunbirdaz

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Very interesting read …

    This book was a Book Club selection, not one I would have just picked up and read on my own accord. Score one for book clubs! I found “the story” easy to follow in anticipation of finding out what happened in this community. The author was able to weave many individual characters and their stories into “the story” in a manner that allowed me to see both their virtues and faults. The book also makes clear any faults or shortcomings we may have ourselves if we truly examine and question some of our beliefs. I was disappointed in the conclusion of the book. It seemed very rushed and tidy from this reader’s perspective. Maybe not life changing, but certainly thought provoking. Highly recommended!

    2 people found this helpful

  55. JBL

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    I binge-read this book in two days because I could not stop myself!!

    The authors deep knowledge of 2 very distinct cultures made this book very powerful. I knew these characters and loved them just as they loved each other.All the terrible differences in the way the cultures were treated was very hard to face. The writer made me face it because he knows it and has lived it and I’m sorry we haven’t changed that reality.The writing is colorful and the stories, some sketched, some fully fleshed -out are so different are yet woven into a patchwork of intricate design.The book is a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned.

  56. Tustin, CA

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Good read …. until its anticlimactic finish

    The writing flowed easily enough, that I was able to finish the book in 4 sittings. I found myself slowing down my reading in order to keep pace with all the characters introduced in the book. Perhaps the author might have restructured his storyline so that there were not too many characters, principal and incidental, for the reader to track. In the end though, the book left significant loose ends about what would have happened next in the lives of the principal characters. Ultimately, I felt let down as a reader. It seems that the author wanted to convey that as difficult and fraught life is, there is basic goodness and redemption that sprinkles the person at different points in his/her life. While the book indeed dwelled on the characters’ difficulties and fraught lives, the author (for me) failed to also narrate redemption in its proper context. There was a summarized, indirect reference to some level of victory in the end, but its emotional impact was far too downplayed to a brief, hurried epilogue. The ending failed to make me smile, which I suspect is what the author would have hoped for his reader. Because I felt that the author failed to explore (or narrate) what would have happened to the characters after the “climax”, the book did not give me a sense of closure; the story felt like it was not on balance. I could not say that this was one of the best books that I have read. But by no means is this work uninteresting.

    10 people found this helpful

  57. robinohara

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    So many unique characters!

    When I started reading this book, it was at the end of the day, when I was tired and reading for relaxation. But after several very interesting chapters I realized this was a book that demanded attention. I could choose to set it aside and read other novels mindlessly, or I would need to commit to paying attention. I chose the latter. I’m glad I did.Dozens of characters all have their own stories and you can easily lose your way if you leave the book and come back a couple days later (which I did once and regretted!). The awesome thing is it all fits together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle with interesting, colorful, (some) hate-able, but ultimately very memorable characters that make the story so compelling.

    One person found this helpful

  58. Gee-Gee S

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    A Study of Survival

    I just finished the book The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store: A Novel,by James McBride. It takes place in Pottstown, PA in the ’30’s. I worked in Pottstown for 10 years and recognized many of the areas mentioned in the story. But it is an interesting look at the dynamics of the re3lationship between the Jewish immigrants and the “negroes” who have moved from “down south, and live in the same area of those “rejected” by the town “fathers”. It includes commentary on Pennhurst as well. A well written book with a captivating story.

    One person found this helpful

  59. #EmptyNestReader

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    a story of poverty and friendship

    The story starts with a little history from the 1930s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania an impoverished community consisting primarily of poor Blacks and immigrant Jews known as Chicken Hill. Like everywhere, the people in this community have their secrets – secrets kept from neighbors and from friends, from the authorities and by the authorities.In present day 1970s, while working on some city water pipes a skeleton is discovered at the bottom of a well. Who this person is and how he got there is the basis of this interesting novel. It is only when the truth about the dead man is discovered and the involvement of the white citizens is revealed that the secret is fully disclosed.A novel full of fascinating characters with equally fascinating (and fitting) names like- Monkey Pants, Dodo and Big Soap. Friendship with the lead female character, Chona, is a prize valued by everyone. Chona inherited the Heaven and Earth Grocery Store from her father.Although there is sadness in the lives of the people of Pottstown and in their struggles to get by, there is also love and humor and camaraderie, as they do what they can to support one another. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    3 people found this helpful

  60. fizzleswim

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    Great for a Book Club

    This is a well written book with a good story . The beginning chapters were rough. They didn’t flow well as the cadence was off and therefore the story felt like it stumbled along . It needed better descriptions of physical characteristics of the people and places in the novel . It also desperately needed humor. The book is grimly compelling. There are many profound and memorable moments in this book.1930’s America was not the promised land of easy living for immigrants and it still isn’t today.The book does a decent job of portraying life for people who are not male WASP in 1930’s Pennsylvania.It takes place in a community on the outskirts of the main town. The people of the Hill, who are viewed as ” less than ” by the mainstream WASP town people, are vibrant and hardworking people who are important to the town even if the town does not acknowledge that.The community on the Hill is diverse. Their are many different types of Jewish people, “Disabled” ,Blacks, Germans, Italian , and Latino people living there all tied together by Chona, Moshe, The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store and the Theater.Chona, “Dodo”, and ” Monkey Pants ” are what keeps the story hopeful and compelling.The book does have the underlying message of “White Privilege” makes it almost impossible for anyone other than able bodied male WASP to arrive at their full potential and that immigrants lives are hard. At times the reader feels like this is just a message on continuous repeat. Although on the surface the message of book is that is that if you are not Male, White, Anglo Saxon Protestant like the original founders of the United States Constitution life is hard, it is really a book about community and how we can all make life better for one another if we stay united and work together.It’s a good ” book club” read but needs humor.

    41 people found this helpful

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