The novel is a fantastic representation of the alternate-reality/time-travel genre with reality changing every time Kate returns to the present. While many novels have explored 'The Butterfly Effect,' the subject is not always handled with such expertise ... There are times this novel is funny; alternatively, it’s terrifying, and there are passages that are absolutely heartbreaking ... The author’s language is captivating and lyrical. She paints with great skill Kate’s fluid reality of Manhattan, with its party-filled summers and snowstorm-stopped winters ... Author Newman has a strong ability to put us in the moment with her characters ... The Heavens blends elements of speculative, historical, and literary fiction with mastery. I enjoyed Newman’s humor, eccentric descriptions, and period dialogue.
Revising a writer as great as Le Guin is dangerous business and The Heavens suffers in comparison, especially in its philosophical underpinnings. Ms. Newman wants to say something about how individual aspirations are antagonistic to the collective good, but the point feels forced and by the end the novel has become ensnared in the web of its gimmick, preoccupied with murky explanations of how the dream worlds work (something to do with subatomic particles) ... Ms. Newman sensitively captures the heartbreak and confusion that follows from Kate’s seeming mental illness. There are complexities enough in this timeframe to make you wish the novel stayed in it.
The narrative toggles between the modern and Elizabethan ages, with vivid accounts of the latter including Emilia’s growing relationship with Will Shakespeare, and snaps back to Ben’s reality on 9/11. In this tender love story, Newman ponders the impact of individual action on the world as she creates alternative universes, realities, even endings. Fiction as provocative as it is ambiguous.