Thursday, March 22, 2012

(39)Heft by Liz Moore


Publication Date: January 23, 2012
Pages: 352 

In my weight loss journey,  I have become fascinated with reading books and watching television shows about people who have either lost obscene amounts of weight or need to lose obscene amounts of weight.  I think it is partly for motivation and partly for my ability to say "Thank God I don't have that much to lose.".  When I saw Heft by Liz Moore I snatched it right up, because I  figured it would be another one of those books to motivate me away from the left over birthday party pizza.

I was only partly right.  Heft is the story of Arthur Opp and Kel Keller.  Two characters who couldn't be more different.  Arthur is a former college professor who has not really left his Brooklyn house in ten years because of his embarrassment for weighing over 500 pounds.  Kel is a popular high school student from Yonkers attending a high school , that is for many reasons, out of his league.   He juggles his academic and athletic life while taking care of his physically and mentally ill mother, Charlene.  There is the connection between Kel and Arthur.  Charlene. Many years ago, Charlene was Arthur's student and they have maintained somewhat of a relationship all of these years through letters. There were many times over the years, that these letters were Arthur's only connection to someone on the "outside,". He cherished them like nothing else.  And it is Charlene's letter asking for help with Kel that  spurs Arthur to start thinking about life outside his home for the first time in years.  It is that plea for help that prompts Arthur to hire a maid and start planning for guests.  What Arthur doesn't expect is the friendship he will form with Yolanda, the maid,  and how their friendship will change both of their lives.  While Arthur is regaining his life, caused by his Mother's final act of desperation, Kel's life is spinning out of control.  The events of Kel's life start leading him to Arthur.  Will they be able to help each other through their struggles or is it too late for Kel and Arthur?

While Heft was not exactly what I thought it would be, it was a wonderfully written novel about two men struggling to move on with their lives.  The title, Heft, refers to so much more than just Arthur's massive weight.  I think it also refers to the massive weight that lays heavily on Kel's shoulders.  He cares for  his mother, much like a parent would care for their child.  He tends to the bills and all of the household chores, coupled with his schooling and his effort to plan for his future outside of high school, well, Kel has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  I was surprised to find myself so engrossed by Kel's story, and I found myself flying through the pages, hopeful for a positive outcome for both Kel and Arthur.

Bottom line, Heft, is an absolutely lovely little novel. It is a thought provoking, achingly bittersweet, tender little novel with very large subject matters.  As the reader, you so desperately, want a "happy ever after"  kind of ending.  And that is what you can have if you just use your imagination.  By ending the novel the way she did, the author, gives us, the reader the chance to "write" the ending we want for Arthur and Kel. In a lot of books that leaves me infuriated, but with Heft, it works. And works well.  Give it a read and let me know how you think the ending goes for Kel and Arthur.


Melissa said...

Never heard of Heft before. Sounds interesting. Does it have a open ended ending.

Charlotte's Web of Books said...

Yes. It is an open ending, which usually I hate, but this time it worked.

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I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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