Heft was an unexpected excellent read. A unique experience
I have never read another book quite like this one.
I would read this again.
The publisher's description of the story did little to inspire me to read this book, I picked it up on sale & was blown away.
Arthur is on first meeting, not terribly likeable. I could pity him, but there is a sense of dishonesty because he is dishonest. He doesn't like who he is & is unwilling to let others know what his life is, to the point of putting on a shirt & tie to answer the door to the grocery delivery man so he can pretend he has been working all day, while in reality he is housebound, completely alone & does little more than eat and watch daytime television.
We begin to see through him though & what follows is a deeply moving story of loneliness.
Kel, the popular athletic teenager is equally lonely & his story is heartbreaking from the beginning as he does his best to care for his alcoholic mother without any outside support.
The two stories are told in parallel until their connection becomes apparent.
Some audio books I find I can become involved in doing something else while listening. In the case of this book I didn't want to. I found I quickly became emotionally invested in the stories of the two main characters (and the other characters also).
My only regret is that I didn't pick this book up earlier. It is absolutely a wonderful read.
The narration is spot on.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
Heft deals with the subject of loneliness and how it can make life quite difficult to bear. There is a time when two people, Charlene and Arthur, meet. Arthur is a professor and Charlene is his student. These two lonely people, gravitate flawlessly towards each other, driven by the loneliness they share. Arthur and Charlene are misfits who need one another.
There is a brief time when they do get together and share a few dinners, where Arthur notices that Charlene does enjoy drinking rum and coke. However, they drift apart as lonely people are wont to do. Surprisingly, Charlene writes a letter to Arthur and he responds. This communication continues for 20 years until Charlene's illness, Lupus, consumes her life.
Mel quits his job and goes home and does not venture outside for a decade. During this time he uses food to comfort himself. Mel balloons from a plump man to an obese man who weighs 550 pounds,.
Charlene quits her job as secretary to the director of a high school where only the rich attend. Charlene used her cunning to get the board of the school to allow her son, Mel, to attend. She knows that Mel wants to become a professional ball player but Charlene has other ideas. She had only been able to attend college for one semester due to finances. Charlene has an intense desire for Mel to attend college and she suspects that his excellent education will be the catalyst to her dream coming true.
Charlene has suffered from the mild form of Lupus for years. However, her need to quit her job results from the disease progressing from mild to progressive. Charlene begins to drink heavily. Her choice of comfort is rum and coke. She has not left her home for the past 2 years.
Charlene never shares this information with Mel. Therefore, when her behavior becomes all consuming, Mel does not understand why. He thinks that Charlene lies when she tells him that she is in pain. Mel stays away from home as much as possible. He is ashamed of his mother and does not bring any of his friends home to meet her. Mel purchases the rum and coke that Charlene so desperately needs. He buys her junk food because that is all that she will eat. Charlene becomes thin and wasted after spending the last two years trying to slowly kill herself.
Charlene knows that Mel will need a mentor and this need inspires her to write one more letter to Arthur, asking for his help. Arthur attempts to telephone Charlene but without success because when he hears Charlene's voice, his voice freezes and he cannot speak.
Mel is given Arthur's name, phone number and address by his mother. She instructs him to call Arthur, whom Mel is aware of because of the many letters that his mother has received from him throughout those many years. Mel knows that Charlene is smiling and therefore happy when she retreats to her bedroom to read the letters.
Mel is never privy to their correspondence. Mel puts the information in his wallet for reasons he's not aware of. His future is a mystery just as everyone else's is. Mel isn't aware at the time but he will need that information as his only life line.
The book is sad but does have its redeeming qualities. Listen and you will understand how one man's loneliness may have a resolution.
The character that I've not talked about is Yolanda. She is a a young girl who comes to Arthur's home to clean. Yolanda is pregnant and her mother has made her quit school to become a housekeeper for a stranger. That stranger is Arthur.
Yolanda plays a pivotal role is helping Arthur to want to try and experience the joy of living as before. She encourages Arthur to get outside and to acknowledge his neighbors, which Arthur could never have done without Yolanda acting as his coach. Walking is something that Arthur knows is impossible for him to do. However, Yolanda proves him wrong. Yolanda sparks a fire in Arthur that does not want to be extinguished but he does need her help.
There is awesome character development that reverberates while listening to this book. You as the listener will come to know them all well. The narrator is exceptional who adds another whole realm to this book. Don't miss this book that will truly touch your heart.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
For the first time in a long time I have to agree with other reviewers that Heft is a great read. It's for mature adults telling the young folks how they came to their age. If you stick with the story, you will understand the two main characters. The first character is a heavy set man in his late 50's that hasn't gone out of his house in a long time due to his weight. He finds company at taking in a former house keeper, who is pregnant. The second character is a high school senior who exceeds in baseball, but is stranded after the death of his mother. He is trying to look for his biological father.
It shouldn't take the reader too long that the two are related to each other, living parallel lives, but there is an exception to the story. I don't want to spoil the ending, but there is no bed of roses at the end.
I really enjoyed Liz Moore and her character development. It's really slow and fast at the same time, like real life. She doesn't miss a beat like other authors does by limiting their characters by cliff noting their identity. The book has this emotional weight between the pauses. In a way, you are rooting for a happy ending, just because it's a depressing story, but many hard earn life are depressing and through their struggles, they are uplifted.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
Heft is told in two voices... Arthur, a 550 pound man living in Brooklyn and Kel an 18 year old from Yonkers. They are both vulnerable, sensitive, insecure, guilt ridden and damaged by life. They are fully developed, imperfect but appealing characters. They are tied together only by a quirky friendship between Kel's mother and Arthur years earlier and her desire for them to meet. Doesn't sound like a five star read... but I lived inside their thoughts and life for 11 hours and 44 minutes and have to say I didn't want it to end. Loneliness, loss, death, abandonment, "almost," disapproval, hope... its not a light read, nor oppressive. The role of fathers and the ways one can be fatherless, is a beautiful thread woven though the book. If you need action, a fast moving plot, mystery or adventure... this isn't it. The only book I can think of that is similar "The Unlikely Pilgrimage Harold Fry" is actually very different. Kel occasionally swears, smokes marijuana and engages in sex at a teen drinking party... probably a PG-13 read.
This audiobook was perfection. The story was extremely interesting, and the narration was ideal. The performances were spot on and I cannot imagine the characters being portrayed in any other way. This is a book that is truly a joy to hear read aloud. The pace is fantastic and the story remains interesting from beginning to end.
Having two different narrators was great- they both made listening enjoyable and portrayed their main characters well.
It made me think of The Glass Castle- how choices of our parents impact our lives beyond childhood.
No, I really enjoyed both readers performances and would definitely listen to other books they read.
I didn't have an extreme reaction, but did re-listen to several sections by Arthur .
This book makes me realize that a day spent feeling sorry for yourself is certainly a wasted day. Such a good story- I will definitely re-listen soon.
Loneliness, family, fear
Excellent readers really made the book
The entire story was moving because of the depth of the characters
My only complaint with the book was that it got a little tedious about three-quarters in. I felt it could have been an hour or so shorter without losing anything.