Jill's Reviews > Heft

Heft by Liz Moore
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's review
Mar 12, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 12 to 16, 2012

One might suspect that a book written about a grotesquely obese academic and a coming-of-age teenager would fall into the “been there, done that” category or at the very least,be reductive in its approach to its characters.

HEFT avoids those pitfalls. The key characters – Arthur Opp, the reclusive and obese professor who has not left his home in over a decade and Kel Keller, the son of the student that charmed Arthur many years ago, are quirky, engaging, and so human they will touch your heart.

Arthur’s epistolary confessional comes first: “My house has grown so familiar to me that I don’t see it…I roam from room to room, a ghost, a large redfaced ghost.” He is hyper-aware of his abnormalcy and doesn’t ask for our compassion, although we cannot help but give it to him. Through the use of the ampersand (&) instead of “and”, Ms. Moore displays a character who is conserving energy. When his former student, Charlene, a troubled and not very attractive woman reaches out to him after two decades, revealing the existence of her athletically-gifted son, Arthur Opp is compelled to take action. He hires a slight housekeeper named Yolanda, a pregnant and feisty 19-year-old, who is his first connection to the outside world. Her character, too, is beautifully developed.

Juxtaposed with this narrative is the story of Kel Keller, Charlene’s handsome and popular son, who is navigating the pitfalls of adolescence along with problems no teenager should have to bear – the alcoholism and deterioration of his mother. As the situation deteriorates, Kel becomes “everybody’s son”, a boy belonging to everyone and no one, least of all himself.

The book presents optimism and hope for the outsider without ever falling into the YA genre. These two unlikely heroes are complex enough to step off the pages and will have readers rooting for them against all odds.
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06/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Dave The perfect review, I wish I'd written it

Jill Dave, thanks so much! What a day-brightener of a comment!

Jody I wondered why she used the & ... thank you.

message 4: by Kate (last edited Dec 31, 2013 03:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate I liked your interpretation of Moore's ampersand use (and mentioned it in my review). I can't decide if I completely buy the usage--it felt like a quick cosmetic way to differentiate between the two perspectives--but I love the book on the whole.

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