Anna Costa and Heaven is Paved with Oreos


Heaven is paved with Oreos

Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This is a journal for Sarah, from her grandmother Z where she has to write all her marvelous adventures…


Wednesday, June 12:

On the first page of Sarah’s new journal, she wrote about her first “adventure”: she had to make sure that her best friend, Curtis, didn’t throw up, because he was very shy.

There was a graduation, where Curti’s brother talked about his terrible injury. In the meantime, Curtis had to stand next to his brother onstage and he looked very queasy. So, she tried to give him moral support. After that they gave out diplomas and Sarah talked a little bit with her best friend, trying to make him feel better.

Later she met her mom and her little brother Paul and they went back home, where they ate pizza with her father.

She wrote also that Z would come the next day, so that’s why she was writing about this little adventure…

Thursday, June 13:

On this day Sarah and Curtis wanted to go work on Boris. Previously, she told about how she and Curtis became best friends:

At first she didn’t speak so much with Curtis, but one day she saw a little dead bird on the floor. She stared at it and the other guys laughed at her. Suddenly Curtis came and told them, that they should stop. Given that Curtis was taller than the others, they instantly stopped to laugh and went away. Later Sarah went in class and her new friend buried the little bird.

A few weeks later Sarah and Curtis became partners for a big project on the scientific elements and because it was so good, they did also something for the science fair, where they became third in the state.

Now they were preparing for the high school state science fair a new project, about a calf, that was born dead. That is why they had to meet in the library…

Thursday, June 13 – LATER (1&2):

Curtis and Sarah worked at the Red Bend Library. There, they spent two hours discussing about the themes for their science project.

When they were finished, Curtis accompanied Sarah back home, until they arrived at Sarah’s home, where they saw Curtis’s sister’s car and also Paul: Paul’s facial expression was miserable, because he hated D.J. and he had to go with her to the guitar lessons, but at the end they found a simple solution…

In the evening Sarah and Paul’s grandmother Z came for dinner. She told about her trip to Rome, to St. Peter’s Square: she wanted to visit all seven pilgrimages, but she failed. For this reason she wanted to go back another time but this time she would take also her granddaughter Sarah.

Only now Sarah understood why she got this journal and she became so excited, as she had never been before.



Friday, June 14:

Today Sarah went to Curtis’s baseball play. She was very happy to see at the game, until   unfortunately she saw there Emily too. Emily attended all the games with big posters for Curtis and she also cheered a lot. Suddenly Emily went to Sarah and asked her why she didn’t cheer, if she was Curtis girlfriend, and at this point, Sarah explained her relation with Curtis:

When Sarah and Curtis were in seventh grade, they invented the Brilliant Outflanking Strategy: When they did their project everybody teased them, because they said, that Sarah and Curtis were boyfriend and girlfriend. Of course that wasn’t true, but one day, they went together to a pic-nic and suddenly a little girl asked them if they had a relationship. At first they said NO, but Sarah had a fantastic idea: the 3rd time that the little girl asked the same question, Sarah said YES and the girl went away. So they discovered that, if Sarah and Curtis said that they are in a relationship, nobody cares…

Everybody believed it, even if it wasn’t true, except for Emily… That’s the reason why Emily commented…

After this, Sarah bought an ice cream with Curtis and told him about Rome.

Monday, June 17 – June 17 LATER

This morning, D.J. drove Paul and Sarah to Prophetstown, where Paul took music lessons and Sarah took out Z’s dog. On the way Sarah told D.J. about her trip to Rome and something about Z.

Later Sarah went to her grandmother’s apartment and ate lots of Oreos, because she and Z loved those biscuits dipped into milk.

Later she went to walk with the dog Jack Russell George.

After this promenade Sarah went back home with D.J. and whilst D.J. was driving, Sarah told her the story about her grandma’s name Z:

Z had Sarah’s dad when she was eighteen years old, in 1960. However, the problem was, that in those years a lot of people didn’t like girls having babies when they weren’t married. Z had to leave college, let her son with her parents in Two Geese and moved to California. Sarah’s dad grew up with his uncles and aunts and Z changed her name from Alice Zorn to Azalea Zorn, but everyone called her Z. The strangest thing is, that Z never said who’s the real dad of her child was. They supposed, that it was a famous person, because Z wanted his son to have many possibilities to become famous.

Friday, June 21:

On the way to Prophetstown D.J. asked if Paul would go to Rome too, but he said no, and listened to music. Later Sarah narrated again something about Z and on the ride back to Red Bend, D.J. told something about her boyfriend.

Saturday, June 22- Sunday, June 23 – Monday, June 24:

Z came to dinner and brought Chinese food, fortune cookies and later the whole family discussed about the trip to Rome. At the end they decided that Sarah would go to Rome and instantly she called Curtis and told him about this news. He didn’t sound good at all and Sarah became sad because of this.

The next day, Sarah told D.J. about the decision and she found it fantastic, because for her it was a very good possibility to become smarter.

Tuesday, June 25 – Saturday, June 29 – June 29 LATER:

Curtis had a game, but his mood was tight and Sarah couldn’t understand why… She wished, there was someone she could talk about. At first she thought of Z, but she wasn’t good at talking about other people, because she compared everything with the 1960s and she saw not Sarah as Sarah, but Sarah as herself.

On Saturday Sarah went shopping with her mother for the trip. Her mom wanted to get comfortable shoes so that Sarah could walk a lot. The shoes were awful..

In the evening Curtis went to Sarah, but they didn’t have any fun… Sarah thought about a lot of things and was very aloof. He went away, without saying anything, because he went to a friend’s house…

Monday, July 1 – Saturday, July 6 – Tuesday, July 9:

On Monday Sarah went to a basketball game of D.J. with Z. Both cheered a lot for D.J. and determined that she had also many other fans.

On Saturday Sarah was highly sad, because she had broken up with Boris, even if they weren’t actual girlfriend an boyfriend. Since Curtis did not want a fake girlfriend anymore and he also hated to lie about this.

On Tuesday Sarah recounted Z, about breaking up with Curtis, but she took it calmly. Also because the next day, they would begin their adventure and go to Rome. They had to think about other things than men.


Wednesday, July 10:

Z and Sarah were in the plane to Chicago. They were both very excited for Rome and also because they had an exceedingly tight connection to the plane to Rome. Another agitating thing was that, Sarah had a new journal. The old one, was already half- filled and she wouldn’t carry around memories of Curtis.

Later, Sarah had good news: they didn’t miss the plane to Rome. Z and she didn’t sit together: Sarah sat next to a real nun and Z next to a man. Their supper was very nice and afterward, they slept…

Thursday, July 11:

Sarah and Z were in ROME! They landed at an airport and took the train from the airport to the centre of Rome. Afterward they went in a little cafe and called Sarah’s mom to tell her, that they landed safety and then they walked to their hotel. As soon as they had unpacked their clothes they explored the Eternal City.

In the late afternoon, they sat in another cafe and ate some “gelato”, ice cream, and continued their walk. The first thing they visited, was the Pantheon, an old Roman temple with columns in front that were huge. Then Z took Sarah, to see an elephant. Of course it wasn’t real, it was only a statue, and on its back it had an obelisk.

After the Pantheon, they visited a really old part of Rome, the Forum, which is a bunch of rocks and tourists.

Saturday, July 12:

Finally, the pilgrimage began! Sarah and Z went to St. Peter’s, the most important church of their seven pilgrimage churches.

As soon as Sarah and Z were at St. Peter’s, they had to stand in a line for a long time. When they got inside Z kept following the guides who spoke English, so that they could learn even more.

After this visit, both went to a cafe and drank cappuccino. Later they continued their pilgrimage and stood in another long line to get on the top of the church. Only there Sarah could appreciate how big St. Peter’s really was! To get on the top, they had to climb 300 steps and some of them were super twisty and narrow. Up in the dome they were close enough to see the mosaics and on the roof Sarah bought also a postcard for D.J.

Saturday, July 13:

By then Z and Sarah were SUPER PILGRIMS, because they had visited FOUR churches:

The first church, they visited, was Santa Maria Maggiore church, Jesus’s mother, Mary’s church.   An interesting thing was that Bernini was buried inside and the ceiling was made of the first gold the Spaniards brought back from America. St. Peter’s and the Santa Maria Maggiore churches were both in the Vatican.

For Sarah, the inside of the Maggiore church was even more beautiful than the St. Peter’s, because it was made of sheep mosaics.

The second church, was St. Helena’s. Sarah didn’t tell many things about this church and later they moved into church number three. Sarah really didn’t like this church, because it was a little bit scary: The church did have the heads of St. Peters and St. John, the Evangelist in silver jars.

Finally they went to the fourth and last church: San Paolo Fuori le Mura. That church was so far, that they had to take the subway. The son of St. Helena built this church to honour St. Paul, because it was where St. Paul was buried. Then, in 1823, a workman accidentally burned the building down. It was a huge tragedy. Inside, there wasn’t anyone, but they heard someone sing: they were pilgrims, who had travelled to this church because they had faith that St. Paul could help them.

After this long pilgrimage, they went to a little restaurant for supper and at the end of the day Sarah and Z returned to the hotel and went to bed.

Sunday, July 14:

On this day Z turned 64 years old and Sarah sang Happy Birthday and gave her a card. It was also the birthday of France. At breakfast the hotel restaurant was decorated with little French flags and the waiters sang “When I’m sixty-four” for Z. She was very pleased and cried. After breakfast Z took a bath and they visited church number five and the sixth church: San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura. Like the St. Paul’s, also this one was outside the old Roman walls, which was very important to remember. San Lorenzo was a Christian back in Rome who was grilled to death. The church was where he was buried and outside there was also a golden statue that showed how he died. Sarah meant, that this church had the best mosaic that Sarah had seen yet. It was a picture of the man who built San Lorenzo, who was holding a model of the church in his hand.

Later, they visited another church, that wasn’t part of the real pilgrimage: Santa Maria del Popolo. Inside Sarah saw lots of skulls and also a huge full marble skeleton, that was built into the wall. While Sarah walked around the church, Z was praying.

Afterward they went to the Spanish Steps, where they stopped at a minimarket and bought something to eat and to drink. Z bought also some cigarettes and smoked part of one.

Monday, July 15:

That morning, Sarah went to have breakfast alone and later they went to church number seven. Then their pilgrimage would be completed. That church was called San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura and it was built on top of catacombs. Lots of common people were buried there, like the early popes and a soldier named Sebastiano, from whom this church took its name.



Sarah and Z had not left their hotel! It was lunch time and Z was still in bed! Z kept saying that she would get up soon, but she didn’t. Sarah was extremely sad about this, so she went down to the woman at the front desk and asked which bus she had to take if she wanted to get to the catacombs. Then she went again to Z and thought what she could do to help her grandma. She wanted to call her mom or D.J. but at the end, she found a better solution: Sarah took some of Z’s European money and went outside.

She bought some pizza for lunch and discovered a very nice store, with which one she fell in love. It was a paper shop, with many different paper types and journals. After this little trip, Sarah went back to Z and brought her some pizza. They talked a little bit and at the end they went to bed.

Tuesday, July 16:

In the morning, they had breakfast and in forenoon they didn’t go to San Sebastiano. Instead of visiting the last church, they went again to the paper store, where Sarah bought some nice presents and Z took a journal and a very expensive pen for herself.


They didn’t go to Sebastiano at all and so they wouldn’t become official pilgrims. They wouldn’t even get to see the catacombs! Darn it!

In the morning, they went to this store and as soon as they picked out the presents, Z said that she wasn’t up for going to the last church. She said that she wasn’t going to make it to the Oreos, what means that she didn’t think she was going to heaven.

In the last pages Sarah forgot to mention the story about the fortune cookies: In Z’s cookie, there was written “Hell is paved with good intentions” and Z transformed it in “Heaven is paved with Oreos”, because she loved Oreos so much.

Instead of that, Sarah went again to the “Basilicata di Santa Maria del Popolo”, to watch the amazing painting of St.-Paul-falling-off-his-horse. While Sarah was in the church and looked at this painting, Z stood outside and looked at the people.

Wednesday, July 17:

Sarah and Z were on the plane while she wrote this entry. They had to wake up extremely early and walked to the train station. Then they flew to Chicago, transferred, and took the other plane to Minneapolis, were Sarah’s mom picked them up. While they were on the plane Z wrote something in her journal…

Once they were in the car with Sarah’s mom and Paul they had to recount all the adventures and they dropped Z off in front of her apartment. Z gave Sarah the journal and a kiss and she went into her house.

Thursday, July 18:

On this day, Sarah got up very late and had a simple American breakfast. Later, she put Z’s notebook under her bed and maybe she wouldn’t even have read it…

Z’s notebook – for Sarah and Paul:

Z wrote this letter for her grandchildren, because they needed to understand from where they came. She never thought and talked so much about this, but now she had to be honest to herself and all the people around her.

Z was born in Two Geese, Wisconsin, a very small town, that was even smaller in 1949. Her mom Ann, had her, Johnny and Janie and Ruthie and then eight years later little Tommy. So Z was like a maid, a second mother. She had to do everything in the household, but she didn’t want to get married and have children like everyone. She wanted to know what she wanted first. Then she saw the Beatles, and discovered folk music, rock and roll and Motown. She couldn’t say if it was the music or herself, but she couldn’t stay in Two Geese, she had to get out.

Later she won a scholarship and finally left Two Geese for a fancy East Coast women’s college. The summer after her freshman year, a professor offered a tour of Italy. She would take part anyway!

On the trip, they visited Florence and Venice and Siena. Their first day in Rome, they went to all the Classic sights and the next day they were free. The girls went from Café to Café, drank some wine and of course didn’t go to Sebastiano. They vowed to finish the next day.

Also the next day, they couldn’t. A student made a tour with them in some churches. It was July 14, Bastille Day, Z’s birthday.

Then they went to Santa Maria del Popolo and as soon as they were in front of The Conversation of St. Paul, Z began to cry. Of course Paolo, the student, noticed it and took her aside to ask her how she was. They began to chat about music and Z found out that he also liked the Beatles and asked him if he has a Record player to play the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He didn’t… but he could sing the song to her later, in the evening.

They were under strict curfews and so the girls helped Z to sneak out. Paolo said he would meet her in the evening on the Spanish Steps, and he did. Everything seemed like a fairy tale…

They were convinced they were in love and sang “When I am sixty-four” twelve times. Paolo and Z made a pact that they would be together when they turned sixty-four. They promised each other they would meet on the Spanish Steps on the evening of Z’s sixty-fourth birthday.

Well, on each day, Z truly didn’t think she could get pregnant, and didn’t pay so much attention…She snuck back to her hotel at 5.00 am and had to tell everything to her six friends.

She didn’t see Paolo again, and some days later they left and flew back to New York. Z spent the rest of the summer taking some odd jobs and whenever she had the possibility she went to some clubs. She never saw Bob Dylan, but she met many other brilliant stars. In fall she returned to college and her own brother Johnny went to the war in Vietnam. He was drafted in the U.S. Army. Z tried to help him flee, but she had her own problems: she was definitely pregnant and the college kicked her out immediately…

Although, she really didn’t want to get back, she returned to Two Geese and the judgment from the other people was terrible. She survived only thanks to Grandma Ann.

All the time, Z thought about giving her baby up to adoption, because she wanted to become an artist… She and Paolo wrote many letters, but she wouldn’t let him know about the baby; so she asked him, if he wanted to have a family. Her heart broke, as soon as he said that he wanted many years of freedom, before that to happen. After a while they stopped writing and then Z lost his address.

Then Johnny died. He had a terrible car accident in an army base. That’s when Grandma Ann said she wanted Z’s baby. She wanted a child to substitute the child she’d lost. Z named the baby Robert Rimmerman Zorn. If people wanted to think that it was Bob Marley’s son, that was fine for her.

She left Two Geese as soon as she could and changed her name to Azalea Zorn. Suddenly, when Grandma Ann got sick, she came back to Wisconsin to look out for her and Robert.

Sarah and Paul knew that Paolo didn’t come to the Spanish Steps on her sixty-fourth birthday, but she also never thought he would. As Z planned the trip, she didn’t want to go alone, but she also didn’t know whom she should take to Rome. At first she wanted to go with Robert, but he had to work and then she had the idea to take her granddaughter.


As soon as she understood, that Paolo wouldn’t come she fell apart and now she was extremely sorry about this… She only wanted everyone to be happy…

Grandmother Z


Friday, July 19:

Sarah began using her new journal, that one she had bought in Rome.

She read Z’s journal, even if it was hard for her and now she was really furious with Z. She also wrote the reasons, why she was furious:

  1. Z said she would go back to Rome to reconnect with God, but really she wanted to reconnect with Paolo.
  2. Paolo didn’t show up. But what if he did? He would have been shocked to see his granddaughter. Z could have given him a heart attack! She should at least have warned him and also Sarah.
  3. Paolo didn’t come. Why did she tell Sarah all the story then? Now Sarah could only think about her grandfather and all her beautiful Italian cousins. She wanted to meet them, and she could not.
  4. Z, was the reason why they stopped writing letters. Paolo wanted to keep on writing, but she stopped. She also never told him, she had a baby. She only “hinted” at it. Z would have never known his reaction, because she never told him about his son. Perhaps, he would have moved closer to her…Nobody knew.
  5. What about Sarah’s dad? Of course he knew about Paolo, or he wouldn’t have named her brother Paul.
  6. What would Sarah’s mom say, if she found out that Z, wanted go to Rome only to see Paolo again? She would freak out, like she did when she found out that Sarah bought some pizza alone.
  7. Sarah was still mad, because they didn’t see all the churches…

Even, if Sarah didn’t want to see Z or go to Prophetstown, she had to. Paul didn’t want to go there alone with D.J.

The ride was terrible: D.J. didn’t say anything. Sarah wanted to ask her something about Curtis, but she didn’t have the courage.

The back ride wasn’t better; D.J. said only one thing as she was pulling her car onto Sarah’s street: She and Brian had broken up, that’s why she was so mad. And then she said that she was sorry about Curtis, because Sarah and he really liked each other.

Only at that point Sarah understood that she wanted Curtis as a boyfriend and not only as a friend and she felt bad about this, because in fact she behaved like Z with Paolo.

Monday, July 22 – Friday, July 26:

D.J. and Curtis were both away at tournaments all week and so Sarah’s mom had to drive her and Paul to Prophetstown.

On Friday both were still gone. Her mom was still irked by her bad mood and so she was happy that her dad had to work so she didn’t have to talk with him about Paolo or about Z. Eke this day, Sarah’s mom had to drive her children to Prophetstown. On the ride they didn’t say anything and as soon as they arrived they did the usual activities. During the walk with Jack Russell George, she thought about the giornale that she wanted to give Curtis.


Monday, July 29:

On this day D.J. came back, Curtis didn’t. Sarah was relieved that she could drive again with Prophetstown. On the ride, Sarah recounted her the story about Z and Paolo and asked for advice. D.J. explained her, that the only way to solve this, was to tell her father the truth. Even if it wasn’t easy.

On the way back home Sarah and D.J. talked all the time; about Curtis. Sarah’s biggest fear, was that Curtis wanted only Emily. But D.J. assured her, that he didn’t want anything from her. Sarah’s duty, was now to tell Cutis the truth, because he was not going to talk to her, that was clear.

Wednesday, July 31:

The night before Sarah asked her dad if he wanted to have ice cream with her, but he didn’t have enough time. The next night, the two went to Jorgensens’ for some ice cream and talked about Z and Paolo.

At the end of the conversation, Sarah knew that also her father knew only that Paolo was his father and not more. She also found out that they called Paul Paul without any intention. Well, universe works in mysterious ways.

After this long discussion, Sarah asked the most important question: “Was Z a good mom?”

He answered, that she was pretty and everything, but she was never at home… she was like an eighteen years old grandma.

Thursday, August 1:

Sarah went to the park, at a picnic table and suddenly D.J. came. Two other girls were with her: Amber and Dale. Together they had ice cream and talked.

That night Mom, Dad, Paul and Sarah had a big talk about the common story. Sarah had to recount all about the pilgrimage, with all the details and the truth. At the end of the conversation, Sarah asked another question to her mom: “Do you like Z?”. Her mom obviously liked her and was also a bit jealous about her…

Friday, August 2 – Saturday, August 3 – Sunday, August 4 – Monday, August 5:

Sarah went to Prophetstown again, with D.J. and they spoke about Two Lady Pilgrims, when Paul suddenly asked if D.J. and his sister wanted to go at the Dog Days of Prophetstown, where he would have a show.

In Prophetstown, Sarah saw Z and as soon as she could, Sarah concluded the conversation.

On Saturday Sarah wrote a little reflection about Emily in her journal and figured out three key facts about her:

  1. Emily was an extremely good girlfriend, but she could not tell other people how they had to be.
  2. Sarah was extremely sure that Emily would never go to Rome.
  3. Emily was not D.J. Schwenk’s friend.

Curtis came home on Sunday. He had a baseball game that afternoon and Sarah wen, too. Of course Emily was there, too, with other girls and cheered like every time. After the game Curtis went to Sarah and together they went to have ice cream.

On Monday D.J. actually asked Sarah about Curtis and Sarah told her that things were looking up… Like on Friday, they talked about the show and the surprise-song for Z.


Sunday, August 11:

Sunday was the day of the DOG DAYS OF PROPHETSTOWNT! That week was soooo crazy: they had to prepare so many things for that show and everything was ready for it.

Sarah spent all her time at the party with Curtis and she wondered why D.J. kissed Brian, when they had broken up not that long time ago…But that wasn’t so important for her.

After a while Sarah decided to tell Curtis the truth about everything: She finally found the courage and told him that she wanted to be his girlfriend and he agreed, too! Later Paul was on stage and did his performance. It was amazing! He had become such a good guitar player and singer. No one expected this about him. A little time later, Curtis went to get some ice cream and brought Sarah a new flavour: vanilla cream with Oreos… She loved it.

And then, the big moment came: Paul played a song especially for Z. Fortunately it wasn’t “When I’m sixty-four”, but another song remixed by Paul only for his grandma. It was a sad and slowly song so everyone began to dance. Even Sarah danced with Curtis and put her forehead on his T-shirt. It was one of the most beautiful moments for the two and as soon as the song finished, both danced along…


I have to say, that I have never seen this book before, but only the title made me curious, so I started to read it… At first it was a bit boring, but then it became more and more interesting.

It isn’t the kind of book I normally read, but I enjoyed it, because in the whole story, there was another story about the past.

I recommend this book especially to girls, because it is a kind of love story…and it isn’t so difficult to read.

Catherin Gilbert Murdock was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in small-town Connecticut, on a tiny farm. The family lived in the country with no neighbors and had a very old TV. Consequently, they all read a lot.

Her father was a chemical engineer and her mother a nurse. Her sister Liz, is now a very famous writer and the author of Eat, Pray, Love and many other books.

Her first book was Dairy Queen, a novel for young adults, that has also a sequel.

Now, she lives in Philadelphia with her husband and children.

Anna Costa


Anna Costa and Heaven is Paved with Oreos

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