Tag Archives: Teen Issues

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: Thirteen Reasons Why (audio)

Thirteen Reasons Why (Audio)

Thirteen Reasons Why (audio)
By Jay Asher
Read by: Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone
(Listening Library (Audio), Compact Disc, October 2007, 9780739356500)

The Short of It:

An absolutely riveting, cannot-turn-off story about a young girl explaining why she decided to take her life.

The Rest Of It:

Clay Jensen comes home from school and finds a package waiting for him. Inside the box, is a set of cassette tapes made by one of his classmates and crushes…Hannah Baker. The only problem is that Hannah killed herself just two weeks prior. These tapes are her thirteen reasons why.

This is a wonderful book. I originally chose it for The Boy but when he told me how much he was enjoying it, I made a mental note to read it myself. Luckily for me, the audio was available so I snatched it up.

Hannah’s story is just heartbreaking. Here is a girl, who is pretty, popular and living in a supportive home, yet she falls between the cracks and slowly begins to lose herself. She is not bullied in a traditional sense, but she is the subject of rumors and those rumors lead to abuse of a different kind. On her way to invisibility, she reaches out for help (numerous times) but her cries for help fall on deaf ears.

The cassette tapes that she’s left behind are to be shared with the thirteen people responsible for her collapse. The story alternates between Hannah’s voice, and Clay’s, who doesn’t understand why he is included in this group, until he listens to his section of the tape. This method of sharing her story often brought tears to my eyes, because as a reader, you know there is no daring rescue at the end. You  know the outcome and all you can do is sit there, shaking your head, wondering how many young kids are out there today, thinking the same thing.

The readers for this novel are amazing. Debra Wiseman plays Hannah perfectly. The pain, the angst and the frustration all come through beautifully in her reading. Johnstone also does an excellent job portraying Clay. He has this wide-eyed, sensibility that makes you like him even more. Innocent, but not stupid. Very touching at times.

On that note, I want to share this video with you. It has nothing to do with this book, but I came across it while reading the book and it brought me to tears. My son was a student ambassador for his middle school, and when he was, I always reminded him that a kind word, said to a troubled kid, could be the difference between life and death. Plus, it includes the awesome singing group, Ahmir. I adore them. Please watch it. Such an important message.

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