Summary: After the death of his grandfather, David McLean, DJ’s task is to take his ashes up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, a place he never got to go to during his life despite flying many missions over Africa. A natural athlete and leader as the oldest of the seven cousins, DJ has no trouble understanding why his grandfather chose him for the job, expecting his trek to be more like a walk in the park as opposed to a real challenge. Along the way, DJ discovers his own strength will only take him so far though, and learning to take things slowly and rely on others just might get him further than he would if he were alone.
Number of Pages: 245
Age Range: 13-14
Review: Another strong edition to Seven the Series, Eric Walters’ Between Heaven and Earth explores DJ’s story, the oldest grandson of the late David McLean. As his grandfather’s namesake and role model to his twin brother and five younger cousins, there’s a lot of pressure on DJ to do the right thing and live up to the expectations placed upon him. He’s given an important task of taking his grandfather’s ashes to Africa, up Mount Kilimanjaro.
DJ is used to being considered the strong and responsible one, especially since the death of his father, but when he travels to Tanzania in Africa and tries to climb a mountain, he realises it might not be as easy as he thinks. What follows is an adventurous read involving stolen bags, helping a girl named Sarah prove her worth as the first girl porter up the mountain, and life lessons in relying on others for strength when you need it the most.
Once again, I love getting to know the character of David McLean through the stories of his grandsons. He always seems to know just what each of his grandsons need to become better men. In DJ’s case, it’s providing one last bonding experience to help him deal with his grandfather’s death.
I wanted to know more about the death of DJ’s dad, and of course what happens next, but Walters answered my questions about the nature of DJ’s and Sarah’s potential relationship. The Seven Sequels are due to come out on October 1st this year, and I can’t wait.
“‘I’ve always thought that the problems of the world were caused because we failed to understand one simple fact: we are all part of the same family. There are not different races of people but one race – the human race. If we were able to trace our lives back through the generations, we’d find the links that connect us all. There are people who speak about the Garden of Eden as if it was a fact, and others who see the theory of evolution as more than a theory. In some ways they’re both correct. However, we all share the same beginnings. We started with one mother and father – one Adam and Eve – even if through evolution.'” – David McLean from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 24
“‘Yes, it is,’ he agreed. ‘He was a man of such strength and determination that it would seem that he could accomplish any goal. But that mountain… it has its way, and for some people it is harder. That is how it was for him.'” – Elijah Senior from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 56
“‘No need to be sorry. It is sad, but many Tanzanians do not seem to know either. In 1961 we gained our independence from England. Our first president, Mr. Julious Nyerere, ordered that a delegation being wood to the top of the mountain to light a pyre. He said, ‘We will light a candle on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which will shine beyond our borders, giving hope where there is despair, love where there is hate, and dignity where before there was only humiliation.'” – Elijah Senior from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 58
“‘Good. It is one thing that they stole your possessions. It would be a far worse thing if they were to steal your compassion.'” – Old Man on the street in Africa from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 73
“‘There is a saying – if you wish to travel fast, travel alone, if you wish to travel far, travel together. You are part of a group of climbers, supported by partners and led by a guide. Travel with them. That’s important for the climb and in life. Don’t leave people behind – not your mother, not your brother, not your cousins – on your life journey.
As you trek up the mountain, I want you to stop along the way, enjoy each step, each moment. Breathe in the air, savor the view, live in the moment. Move slowly, enjoy. Remember not to wish away the minute or the days between now and the goal you are seeking. When you look up, you’ll see climbers farther along the journey. When you look back you’ll see those behind you. Don’t pity those below or envy those above. Life is a journey and not a destination; each must take it at his own pace.'” – David McLean from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, pages 123-124
“I couldn’t believe how focused I was on how my various body parts were functioning. Never had eating, sleeping, eliminating wastes and inventorying my body parts taken up so much of my attention. Normally anybody this concerned should consult a doctor – a psychiatrist, probably – but of course this situation was far from normal.” – DJ from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 174
“‘Don’t be sorry. Go through the tired. Go through the pain. Believe you can do it. Try and you can’t fail. You’re as good as Grandfather. I believe in you. KUTGW bro. Grandfather’s waiting at the top. KIT.'” – Steve from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 211
”You’ve been carrying a lot of weight around on those shoulders,’ she said. ‘It’s a sign of strength to know when you need help. We’re all here to help each other.’
I brushed away a tear. ‘I don’t know what to say.’
‘You don’t have to say anything. We’re a team, remember? Just climb. All the way to the top.’
‘All the way to the top,’ I said.” – Conversation between Doris and DJ from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 226
“”I hope you have learned the joy of taking life as it comes, living in the moment, not thinking through to the end, but relishing the process and perhaps going polepole – going slowly along the path you travel.'” – David McLean from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, page 242
“‘A fool believes he knows what life is about. A wiser man understands he knows little. The wisest man not only understands his limitations, but accepts and embraces that lack of understanding. Slowly, over the years, I came to appreciate that what I knew would never be as great as what I didn’t know. The only thing I have come to know with certainty is that all of us are simply trying to get along the best that we can, sharing in our struggles, trying for our dreams, living with our failures and celebrating our successes. I’ve had my share of both.'” – David McLean from Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters, pages 242-242