Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

I actually read this book during Holy Week, but I was waiting until my book club discussed it to write about it, to see if the discussion would give me a different perspective. Holy Week was a great time to be reading this book, though, because it’s set during the first part of April, just before Easter.

Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven is the only Fannie Flagg book I have read, and I didn’t actually know what to expect. (Here is a surprising fact – I think I have seen part of Fried Green Tomatoes, but I am not sure I ever saw the whole thing. Are they going to take away my Southern Card and make me live where it is cold?) I knew it would be funny, but I didn’t know that it would turn me into “that crazy person who is laughing out loud in the waiting room at her dentist’s office.” Yeah, that’s not embarrassing at all.

This is the story of Elner, a woman who falls out of a tree and gets to go to heaven, and the hole she leaves in people’s hearts that makes them wonder what life is really all about. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story, really – it’s about small towns and families and and belief and staying positive and God and being nice to people and, of course, caramel cake. It was the kind of book that makes you remember that there are good people in the world, which is just the kind of book we all need to be reading after how awful the news has been lately. I laughed out loud, repeatedly. I cried at the end, the good kind of tears. And I wondered why I have waited so long to read my first Fannie Flagg.

I wish I had something more deep to say about it, but it wasn’t necessarily that kind of book. On the surface, it was simply a hilarious story of a wonderful old woman in a small town in Missouri, but underneath it had some very touching things to say about the ways in which we live our lives, the ways our lives touch others, the ways we should make each moment count. On the surface, there’s not a lot to say because there’s not a lot to say about a comedy of manners. And when you go deeper, there’s not a lot to say because the power of the message speaks for itself.

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