Friday, February 24, 2012

Heft by Liz Moore

Heft has been getting some buzz lately from Jennifer Weiner, and I decided to read and review it based on some glowing reviews I came across on Twitter and in Oprah.  It is a lovely book told from the perspective of two very lonely men:  severely obese Arthur Opp, a former English professor who’s been holed up in his family’s Brooklyn brownstone for twenty years, and eighteen-year-old Kel Keller, a high school senior who dreams of being a professional baseball player.  Their connection is Kel’s mother Charlene:  she was Arthur’s former girlfriend and student nearly twenty years before the story takes place.

What’s especially lovely about this book is all the details about the characters’ lives:  Arthur’s solitary existence and especially Kel’s life as a high school jock who lives in the run-down town of Yonkers and attends high school in a wealthier town of Pell’s Landing, where his mother worked as a secretary in the high school.  Kel is the most self-aware high school athlete I’ve come across in fiction, and I think it’s because he’s so hyperaware of people since he grew up with a mother who could not cope with her life:  she was depressed, solitary, and an alcoholic, all of which forced Kel to care for her from a very young age.  He notices so much about others because he’s trying to figure out how normal people function.

Moore is fabulous at making us feel empathy for her characters, even though I felt a little less for Charlene because her story is not completely obvious.  There are no chapters from Charlene’s perspective, which is a bit of a limitation, but I think it’s supposed to be there since both her son and her ex-boyfriend did not know her that well.  I have a soft spot for tales of loners, and I have an especially soft spot for teen angst tales.  Heft is an especially vivid teen angst tale for over half of the story.

I loved Heft because I was so wrapped up in the characters’ lives.  I wonder what’s next for both Arthur and Kel, which I consider a sign of a good book.

For an interview with the author and a more Arthur-centric review of the book, please see Jennifer Weiner's blog.

Heft by Liz Moore
W.W. Norton
Publication date:  January 23, 2012
Source:  Publisher via NetGalley


  1. This review makes me feel like reading the book, and not only because I live in the Brooklyn brownstone part of town, but like you, I have a weakness for loners. Thanks for giving the follow-up link to Jennifer Weiner's blog -- interesting interview, especially, I thought, the reasons given by this young writer for having chosen as the main characters in her first novel people so different from herself.

    1. I hope you enjoy it, Dorothy. I love finding debut novels that resonate with me and spreading the word about them.