The Rooms of Heaven

The Rooms of Heaven
Author:  Mary Allen
Publisher:  Knopf, New York, 1999, 320 pages

Reviewed October 15, 1999
By Colleen Sullivan
Bipolar World

There are books that are enjoyable yet never quite touch your emotions.   Mary Allen's book "The Rooms of Heaven" is not one of them.  When you have finished reading her personal memoirs of life , love, death, grief and the afterlife, you are left pondering the meaning of it all and with a terrible sadness that two human lives suffered as did Mary's and Jim Beaman's.  I am getting ahead of myself here though.

Mary Allen went to Iowa to attend a writer's workshop and never looked back.  Her love and passion for the beauty she saw in her surroundings never left her.   And it was, of course, in Iowa that she met Jim Beamon, a man she would be attracted to at their first meeting and fall hopelessly, intimately and passionately in love with.   Mary and Jim planned to be married.

Through Mary's eyes Jim was perfection.  He loved her with the depth of his being but it wasn't long before Mary found that Jim had some serious problems.  By that time her life was so enmeshed with hers, she tried to ignore the evidence of heroin addiction and alcoholism until it was no longer possible to ignore and it was in the open between them.  Two months before they were to be married Jim  became a statistic…a victim of suicide.  Despite the trials of their relationship Mary still loved Jim deeply and her grief was immediate and intense.

In her attempt to gain understanding and relief from her pain she obsessively read every book she could find on grieving and overcoming grief.  Mary was convinced there was something more after death and turned to a ouija board, automatic writing, then direct contact with the spirits of Jim and other s.    As Mary became more and more obsessive about her "dark spirits" she received a message from God through one of the spirits telling her she was to play a role in His plan to prove that life was eternal, that her part of the plan was known as the Iowa plan, and that one of the people God would bring back to life was Jim Beamon.  When God told her to empty an ash tray and lick it, she did so unquestioningly.  Mary was obviously out of control.

With the help of friends she was committed to a mental hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  Yet Mary, in her heart of hearts blamed her venture into the spirit world for her mental aberration.  Some time later a psychiatrist told her she had been misdiagnosed.

Mary has not forgotten Jim Beamon.  She never will in all likelihood.  She has lived through an experience that none of us can judge without having been there ourselves.  Today Mary comments that she is a different person than the Mary who loved, grieved, and delved into the afterlife, yet she still believes that death is not final…something else must follow.

All in all, a wonderful, warm, heart-warming book that touches the reader and leaves him thinking of all the possibilities.  Highly recommended. 




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