Tag Archives: Families

Review: Heft


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.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
By Aimee Bender
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385720960, April 2011, 304pp.)

The Short of It:

A mix of sad and sweet but overall a very compelling read.

The Rest of It:

One day, as Rose Edelstein takes a bite of her mother’s lemon cake, she is overcome with feelings so powerful, that at first, she’s not sure what to make of them.  Somehow, that one bite conveys sadness and an emptiness that leaves her chilled and confused. Her mother is… sad? Unhappy? How can this be?

Rose’s family is your typical family. At least, they appear to be. They are supportive of one another, loving and although quirky, on the outside they appear to be happily living the California dream. But there are problems, as evidenced by Rose’s ability to taste emotions and the fact that her mother is having an affair that only Rose knows about (she sensed it from her mother’s cooking). Having this “talent” is not like having a superpower. It’s a burden for Rose to feel these things so she tries her best not to feel them, by carefully choosing the foods she eats. By avoiding reality, really.

The first half of this book was wonderful. It was surreal and sweet and I found myself lost in Rose’s story, but the second half took a turn that I didn’t expect it to take and then I was in this weird place where (without giving anything away) I was like, “What the hell just happened here?”  I remember putting the book down and thinking that these folks have issues! Issues, I say! Bender manages to reel you in, and then push you away, only to reel you in again because by the end of the book, I was liking it but not quite sure how to interpret what took place within it. It’s a book that I had to think about for a really long time before I could write anything about it.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is an incredibly sad book but one that was enjoyable to read. I think for the most part, me feeling that way is due to its quirky cast of supporting characters, who lighten things up and help put things in perspective.  There is also a vulnerability to Rose that you can’t ignore. The message here is that everyone has their own gifts, what you choose to do with them, can often define who you are. Good or bad. I enjoy reading books like this because they are weighty, without being dense and give you plenty to think about.

Overall, a good read.

Note from Ti: Do people really put chocolate frosting on lemon cake? I think I must be missing out.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.