Reviewed by Carrie Ardoin

Arthur Opp is 58 years old, well over 500 pounds, and has not left his home in Brooklyn in ten years. Kel Keller is an 18 year old high school senior who excels at baseball. What could these two men possibly have in common? Kel’s mother, Charlene, was once a student of Arthur’s and has been his pen pal for the last 20 years.

Kel goes to a school where he only fits in because he is great at sports. None of his rich friends know that at night he must come home and take care of his alcoholic mother, who doesn’t do much besides sit on the couch and drink all day. Arthur Opp is also stuck on the couch all day–his weight has made it difficult for him to do very much of anything. But in a moment of clarity, Charlene reaches out to Arthur…and this sets off a chain of events that changes both Kel’s and Arthur’s lives completely.

I liked Heft a lot. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was really hooked from the first chapter and I ended up finishing it in just a couple of days. Liz Moore’s writing style flows easily and is real–there aren’t a lot of wasted words or superfluous adjectives.

I actually went through the range of emotions that both of the main characters did. When Arthur described his situation and reasons for his life as it is now, I felt such pity for him. In a way, I wanted to scream, “You could have changed this!” but I came to understand his fragile state of mind and the front he put on. His escaping from the weight of his life was not possible to do alone. Kel was also a great character. As an 18 year old kid, yes, he made a few stupid decisions, but with the way his life was going you can hardly fault him for it.

I think the main reason I liked Heft so much was that while I was reading it, I just kept thinking, “Yes, this is real life.” Moore has a gift for creating very real, raw characters and telling their life stories in a way that makes you feel for them. I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars only because by the end I was hoping for something, ANYTHING good to happen, and a bit more of closure and a happy ending. But, of course, that’s not always real life.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by W. W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.