About the book: (from the publisher) At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.
Genre: Fiction/General/ContemporaryPoignant, nuanced, layered debut about a man, but that reads like women's fiction. @ethelrohan Click To Tweet
My take: Rarely have I rooted for a character the way I did for Big Billy Brennan, a character whose broken heart is just about as great as his 400-pound body. I so wanted him to win. To do all that he sets out to achieve. To lose half himself in weight, to enjoy food without being addicted to it, to have sex again with his wife, to regain the respect of his family and himself, and most of all, to bring something good out of something awful. I ached for this man desperate for a do-over.
What I found especially brilliant was the way this novel bound together multiple layers and double meanings. Bittersweet from start to finish, it’s about a man finding himself as he seeks answers to the unanswerable. I did start to feel a bit depressed about the whole situation about three-quarters in as Billy’s best intentions go sideways on him. But fortunately for Billy and the readers, the story doesn’t end there but on a sweet note of hope that I was happy to take as a parting gift.
The Weight of Him speaks honestly into a couple of sensitive topics: obesity and suicide. One thing that it does especially well is to explore the complexity of people’s reactions to grief and suffering, as well as the very real dilemma of moving forward together — as a couple, a family, a community — when everyone has his own way of coping.
The longer I ponder The Weight of Him, the more I find to appreciate. Its protagonist may be a larger-than-life man, but his story reads very much like fine women’s fiction, deeply imbued with layered complexity, nuance, and truth.
Just so you know: Some profanity and sexual content
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: What’s a favorite book of yours with a male POV?