Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Committee Member

Maile Chapman

Second Committee Member

Douglas Unger

Third Committee Member

Anne Stevens

Fourth Committee Member

Brandon Manning

Number of Pages



Heaven on Their Minds is a novel written from the first-person perspective of teenage

protagonist Melody O’Malley. The plot details Melody’s attempt, along with two close friends, to undermine their conservative Christian theater camp’s summer production of Godspell via the edgier songs and theology of Jesus Christ Superstar. Though ostensibly a satire of the Evangelical Christian community, Melody’s insecurities are the true heart of the novel--her fraught relationship with her best friends, her concerns about her post-high school future, and her ill-advised crush on the most prominent RFC (Robot for Christ) in the camp, a crush that has terrible consequences for nearly everyone in the production. The narrative also delves into various social issues: adolescents exploring their sexualities in a hostile environment, the problems that arise from having blind faith in just about anything, changing family dynamics as children grow older, and the fervent obsessions that are (mostly) peculiar to young adults. The book would almost certainly be classified in the Young Adult genre, but its goal is to appeal to audiences of all ages--to convey the universal teenage experience of not belonging in a humorous, yet honest way.


fiction; novel; YA


Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | English Language and Literature



Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023