The Weight of Him and this review summarized: Meh.
Read on for the full review:
There are some books that make little impression during reading and do not linger after they are put down, and unfortunately, The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan was one of them. It is meant to be an emotionally heavy book about real life and real people, real struggles that many experience but do not openly talk about, like what happens when a loved one commits suicide. It is also meant to be hopeful, with a moral that states that “This too shall pass.” Despite understanding all of the things that it wanted to be, I still could not connect with the plot or any of the characters.
Set in modern day Ireland The Weight of Him is a novel about a morbidly obese man, Billy, and his family who are struggling to cope with the suicide of their eldest son & brother Michael. Billy is overburdened by the guilt of the man he could have been if it wasn’t for his weight; if he was a fitter man, he would’ve been a better father, and maybe his son would still be alive. Distant from his wife and his other three children, Billy decides to do something impactful to make sure that his son’s suicide was not for nothing. His goal becomes to lose half of himself – 200 pounds – while being sponsored by friends and family to raise money for suicide awareness. His dreams are big, just like him, but his family hate to bring Michael into public discussion. Through stubbornness and will, Billy loses weight, finds new goals, betters his career and fixes the gaps between people that he loves.
Maybe that’s why I found this book to be unimpressive. Even though I understood where it should hit the emotional points, which struggles it tried to explore, it was all neat and tidy. Billy went from being overweight, emotionally and personally stuck, to being thinner, bettering his relationships and gaining confidence and a voice as a person. It is nice, and sure it could be true, but there was no drama or tension. There weren’t any pitfalls or fails, not any that mattered at least. At the end, I don’t even remember how much weight Billy had lost.
Throughout the book Billy works on a memorial for his son, a small toy village of dolls which were discarded because they weren’t perfect enough. Billy imagines these imperfect objects to have a perfect life that his family did not have and never will. These moments broke up the main narrative as Billy slipped into this fantasy world, and I found them to be useless because I felt like they did not add anything to the plot. Billy fantasized the things that he wanted to be, with a family he could only imagine, though at the end he does realize that these are only fantasies.
This book could be poignant to the people who went through similar things as Billy. Having struggled with weight for most of my life, I understood how trapped and powerless his felt in his own body. I could relate to that struggle. For the things that I did not experience myself, such as loss through suicide, Rohan approached the experience of it with respect and feeling. There is a lot of truth in this book, the characters feel like people one might know… and yet… I don’t care about them.
Maybe it’s just one of those books that are not my cup of tea. The reality of it is too real and therefore boring. We usually read books to escape or explore a new world, feelings, characters, but all aspects of The Weight of Him are familiar, without new insides.
The Weight of Him would be a good pitch for a Lifetime Network movie. They go crazy for this feel-good shit.
I received the ARC of The Weight of Him from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you St Martin Press and NetGalley for the digital copy.