Family life is central to Penny from Heaven. There are conflicting relationships, family arguments and rifts and many challenges as Penny negotiates her way between her mother's side of the family and her late father's relatives with whom she spends much time and is able to hold on to some memory of her father. Penny knows there are secrets and unspoken words between the two families which she has been unable to understand or resolve.
Penny's mother is overprotective and Penny does not want to spend a boring summer in the house. She spends a lot of time with her cousin Frankie and is very supportive of him when he is caught stealing from the church. Fortunately, he is not sent to prison and will be able to build a future after working in his uncle's factory.
The reader knows there is more to the story about Penny's father and the rising action is found in all the little details as Penny moves between the two families and observes the conflicts. This ultimately leads to the climax, after Penny has been in hospital after an accident and discovers the truth about her father.
The climax and the discovery of the secrets and what has led to her mother's unresolved grief and Uncle Dominic's guilt allow the story to find a fitting conclusion. Penny can now happily share a future with all her family members " I think I’ll burst, knowing what a lucky girl I am.”