By Liz Moore
(W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393081503, January 2012, 352pp.)
The Short of It:
If you are looking for a book that is wonderful, heartbreaking, touching and incredibly meaningful… then you’ve found it.
The Rest of It:
At age 60 and over 500 pounds, Arthur Opp finds himself in a strange predicament. For twenty years, he’s remained in his house, refusing to go outside. What he needs, he has delivered to the house. Food, supplies, you name it. He’s a thoughtful man, and very lonely yet he’s been removed from society for so long, that he fears he may never leave the house again.
Charlene, was a student of Arthur’s in college. While taking his class, she and Arthur had a connection that neither of them could explain. Charlene, plain and socially awkward, found a friend in Arthur that she’s not had since. Not even after 20 years. Although their physical friendship ceased after she left college, she continued to write letters to Arthur for a few years and those letters meant more to him than she could ever possibly know.
Now, twenty years later, Charlene writes to Arthur once again to tell him of her son, Kel. She asks Arthur if he can help Kel by providing the guidance that he so desperately needs. Arthur’s excitement over her letter, sets a series of events into motion. For one, the hiring of ¬†maid. An act that causes great stress for Arthur, after all…no one has been in his house for years, yet with this stress, comes friendship (of all things) and his friendship with Yolanda, the maid, brought many smiles to my face.
This was a fabulous read. Absolutely fabulous and it brought me to tears numerous times. These characters are wonderfully flawed and honest and vulnerable and well…real. It’s the type of book that has you cheering for EVERYONE and that is such a rare thing, to be able to cheer for everyone. The story is told by Arthur and Kel in alternating chapters and let me tell you, the structure worked for me. The beginning was a tad slow, just a tad but once you get going, you won’t be able to put it down.
Plus, this is the first book I’ve read that had a character with Lupus. As a person who tests positive for Lupus every now and then, I am happy to see Lupus getting some attention. It’s a disease that affects many, yet many haven’t a clue what it is. Although it wasn’t the focus of the story, the effect that is has on one of the main characters is touching and heartbreaking and devastating in the way only a serious illness can be.
As I was reading this book, I felt that it could easily cross into Young Adult although it’s not classified as such. It’s an easy read, yet deals with some really heavy themes, all of which held my attention and made me love this book even more.
Heft will definitely be one of my faves for 2012. I want everyone to read it.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
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