by Liz Moore
2012 W.W. Norton
Received an E-galley from the publisher.
"Heft" is a moving, well written story of two people - a morbidly obese man who has not left his home in 10 years and a teenage boy dealing with an alcoholic mother. The two are not aware of each other's existence, but are connected by a mutual person in their lives. Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds never leaves his home. A former student gets in touch with him and he starts making changes in his life, hiring a maid to help him get his home ready for a possible visitor. Unexpectedly, this contact with this teenager who comes to clean comes to mean more to him then he expected.
In another part of New York, Kel Keller is the poor kid in a rich school with a promising baseball career. The biggest stumbling block in his life is his alcoholic mother whom he has to care for. As she gets worse, his personal & athletic lives deteriorate.
The two characters are sympathetic, but not entirely likable. But as the book goes on, you grow to love and root for them both. Their story shows that there are different definitions for "family". As I hit the last fourth of the book, I could not put it down. Highly recommended. I just wish the book had been about 5 pages longer, it ends somewhat abruptly. The San Francisco Chronicle said: “Few novelists of recent memory have put our bleak isolation into words as clearly as Liz Moore does in her new novel.”