Friday, March 23, 2012

Heft: Book Review

By Liz Moore
Digital copy supplied
By Netgalley

Heft, takes place in Brooklyn, NY. Arthur Opps is a college professor many years ago. He is now 58 years old. He is a shut in because of his weight. He weighs 550 lbs. Thanks to technology he can order his necessary items through the internet, such as his clothes, books, magazines without going out the door.  He dreams about all the luscious delicacies of food. What it tastes, feels and describes them to us. He is a lonely, reclusive big man. Without any connection with anyone. He's family has passed away, without brothers, sisters, and friends to speak of.  The only thing he looks forward to is letters from a student, Charlene through the years has sent to him.
While Arthur was still teaching, both him and another student Charlene found comfort with each other in their lonely lives. During the one semester while he told they become close, but not intimate.
But the school suspected that Arthur became involved with her.
Charlene and Arthur were two lost souls. Both were sad and lonely people, who spent hours talking over the course of the semester. When the class was finished, Charlene never took another course, but began to write Arthur letters. First he was rather shocked, but when he lost his job soon after, to him she seemed like the only friend he had.
Two of these lonely people found comfort in each other. They were both awkward, and different.
The letters stopped coming. But, then in present tense Charlene asked a favor of Arthur. Would you help my son, Kel Keller, a high school student. Since he is a college, or was a college professor would you help him with deciding about his future.
Arthur decides he must clean up his house before inviting Charlene and her son for a visit. He calls a cleaning agency and meets Yolanda. He need her to straighten and clean the house. He has had no reason to clean. Now that Yolanda has come to help straighten each visit. This picks up his spirits.
Then when the story alternates to present day. Charlene was the VP secretary of the high school. Charlene seems to like to be around educated people. She wants her son to grow up to be smart and go to college. Not to become a baseball pro without education.
Then when Charlene divorces her life somehow goes downhill. She starts drinking, and looses her job. She develops a chronic illness.
The story alternates between Arthur, Charlene, Kel, and Yolanda. It is like at times reading a short story. But, I did like the character development. The story at times is sad, but then puts a smile on your face.  You will realize at the end when the story connects to each other. It becomes a OH-YAH moment.
Heft is about a young teen age boy, how he grows up to find himself. To understand the actions of his mother.  Heft, will make you wonder what family really is. What is a family? You will care about all these dysfunctional  people with all their flaws. How they can  pull it together to become whole. How these Lonely, sad people become misfit and fit with someone who cares. It is not a story that is wrapped in a pretty bow. You have to come to your own conclusions.
 I loved the last paragraph:
 Instead I walked to my front door& opened it. I peered out into the world.  The street was quiet and nothing moved. I opened the glass outer door & walked to the outer stoop. A car rolled by, looking for parking,& for a moment I grew nervous.& excited but it was not the boy. I stood still then & put my arms about myself. O what will happen now I asked. But I was alone, and found I could not answer.

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