Proof of HeavenProof of Heaven
Winner: Silver, Mom's Pick Awards November 1, 2011 William Morrow/HarperCollins

A mother's faith, a child's bravery, and a doctor's search for healing come together in this moving and thought-provoking fiction debut that explores the meaning of  family, faith, and love. Though he might be young, Colm already knows the truth about himself—that he’s very sick, and he may not get better. His mother, Cathleen, takes comfort in the certainty that, whatever happens, Colm will be protected by the God in whom she so fiercely believes. But her son is not so sure. Afraid to tell his religious mother about what he fears may happen “after,” Colm faces each day with a wisdom far beyond his years, and eventually turns to his benevolent and logical doctor for advice. 

And though Colm has come to terms with the realities of his short life, he does have one special wish—to meet his long-lost father, the man who left before Cathleen gave birth to her beautiful auburn-haired, green-eyed angel. But the quest to find his father will become something far more indelible—a journey of emotional discovery that will test their love, force them to confront their fears and their faith, and face the ultimate question: Can a child give his loved ones hope, peace, and proof of heaven? The answer may just be the cure they all need to heal their broken hearts.


Advanced Praise for Proof of Heaven

"Proof of Heaven belongs on any keeper shelf. It’s beautifully written, mesmerizing and tragic, thought-provoking, and a reaffirmation of faith. The story of a mother’s love for her son was touching...but it was the tale of one boy’s search for heaven that brought me to tears. I loved this book.”— Shelley Shepard Gray

An “intriguing” Fall Pick! ––

Cathleen knows there’s something deeply wrong with her son, Colm. Prone to fainting spells that stop his heart and require a team of EMTs and defibrillation paddles to revive him, Colm is a fragile little boy with an unknown condition. Continually disappointed by the fact that “the next doctor” and “the next test” don’tproduce a specific diagnosis for Colm, Cathleen begins to turn elsewhere for answers. Proof of Heaven is a remarkable first novel that explores the intersections of science and religion, medicine and faith. Hackett uses a unique blend of scientific terminology and religious history to illustrate Colm and Cathleen’s journey, adding a layer of realism to an incongruous premise. While Cathleen’s maternal trials could have been amplified to melodramatic extremes, Hackett’s lyrical restraint allows the character to shine. Hackett also takes full advantage of her supporting characters, allowing Colm’s newest doctor and Cathleen’stroubled brother to carry portions of the narrative. Reminiscent of Carol Cassella’s recent work, this is an emotionally fulfilling, spiritually inviting, thought-provoking novel.––Booklist

“Does heaven exist? Are our loved ones waiting to reunite with us? Can near–death experiences offer proof? In Hackett’s debut novel, everything hinges on an intriguing young boy, Colm, whose rare medical condition repeatedly causes him to die and come back to life. Indeed Colm physically manifests the dilemma each character in this novel faces: How can brain and heart, reason and faith, speak to each other?” ––Kirkus 

“At the center of Curran’s first novel is Colm Magee. Abandoned by his father before birth, much loved by Cathleen, his mother, Colm has a condition that eludes diagnosis: his heart stops beating without warning, and resuscitation is increasingly difficult. Medical science provides no answers until they come across Dr. Basu, who has lost a son of his own and who makes an immediate connection to Colm and Cathleen both. Dr. Basu pinpoints the diagnosis, one that provides no hope or treatment, and so Cathleen digs ever deeper into her religious convictions. But Colm, by the age of seven, has rejected the idea of God and heaven, a fact he doesn’t want to share with his mother. In Dr. Basu he finds a mind more like his own, though initially his mother’s not too sure. In Cathleen, Dr. Basu sees an example of “grief never ceasing to transform,” and indeed the focus on her struggle to reconcile faith and loss… overwhelms.” ––Publishers Weekly 

“Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett is an astonishing debut-a moving, inspiring, and wise first novel that explores beautifully the meaning of family, faith, and love. The story of a mother's unshakable belief, a child's bravery, and a doctor's dedication to healing, this is extraordinarily compelling contemporary fiction certain to appeal to fans of the acclaimed works of Alice McDermott, Mary Karr, Ann Lamott, and Jodi Picoult; to readers who made the inspirational novel The Shack a phenomenal success; and to all of us with questions of life, death, God, and the afterlife at the forefront of our minds.”––HarperCollins

“This book is a must-read for all parents, especially moms! Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett is a page-turner; cinematic and philosophical, spiritual and mindful.  While I have found myself shying away from hard topics after having kids, I could not stop reading this.  Proof of Heaven book cuts right to the quick: a mom, single, with a sick child.  But where most books will leave you weeping in the hospital room with horrible diagnoses and debilitating pain, Hackett moves the story forward well beyond our physical lives.  Can love save us?  How?  What are the boundaries of belief?  In God?  And in love?  This book will challenge the reader to look into dark corners, but rather than making it scary and lonely, Hackett provides compelling characters and a storyline that leaves the reader feeling…hopeful?  Challenged and thoughtful for sure, yet hopeful nonetheless.  An excellent debut for an up-and-coming writer…Proof of Heaven is your next fall book club selection!—Meghan Leahy,  Columnist, Washington Times,