Saturday, July 14, 2012

Heft by Liz Moore

My rating: 4.8 of 5 stars

I do understand how some reviewers say this book was maudlin but for me, I fell in love with it. This story is told through the voices of 58 yo Arthur Opp, who is 500 lbs and hasn’t left his Brooklyn home in 10+years, and 17 yo Kel Keller who has reluctantly just made the difficult switch from a school in Yonkers to attend elite Pells Landing. The tie between these dissimilar characters is Charlene – Kel’s mother and Arthur’s former student and penpal. The common thread is that all of these characters have is a lot of dysfunction – sad, lonely and in desperate need of help - and yet, instead of feeling revulsion or even depression, the author makes you feel so much empathy for each of them. These characters are complex and complete.

I listened to the audio version and the narrators are wonderful. I quickly fell under the spell of the intellectual voice of Arthur Opp. So much so, that it was hard for me to make the transition to the introduction of Kel’s voice (always a sign that I have subtly been drawn in to the previous character much deeper than I realized, until I miss them). Soon, I had almost as much enjoyment, or at least compassion, for Kel. Both characters have many flaws but, somehow, Moore does an impeccable job of making you empathize with their plights/choices. She captures the characters flaws and insecurities and makes you cheer for them and want more. If that wasn’t enough, I loved the peripheral character of Yolanda (“I’m pregnant you asshole!” LOL!)

I love an ending that doesn’t wrap everything up in a too perfect bow and Moore didn’t disappoint.

A quote from People magazine “The single word of the title is obviously a reference to Arthur’s morbid obesity, but it also alludes to the weight of true feelings and the courage needed to confront them. Heft leads to hope.”

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