Danna's Reviews > Heft

Heft by Liz Moore
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Apr 10, 2012

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Read from April 10 to 12, 2012

Heft is the story of three lives intertwined. Arthur Opp is an obese agoraphobic living alone in his Brooklyn home, which is financed by his trust fund. Before Arthur's mental and physical decline, he had been a college professor. While teaching, he became intimately close with his student, Charlene. After Charlene left school, they continued to write letters to each other for many years. The third character is Charlene's 17-year-old son, Kel Keller, star athlete at the ritzy Pells Landing public high school.

We learn early on that Charlene is someone with big dreams that have fallen short: Kel describes her as a broken alcoholic who hasn't worked in years, isolated in their shoddy Yonkers apartment. The relationship between Kel and Charlene is similar to most alcoholic parent-child relationships in its codependency and love/hate sentiment. Arthur, pen pal from afar, has little idea that Charlene's life is disintegrating.

The fourth most important character in the book was my favorite, Yolanda, Arthur's newly hired, 19-year-old cleaning woman. Her attitudes and actions are wonderful and believable, and the relationship growing between her and Arthur is heart warming.

I had mixed feelings about Heft. There were parts I loved where I felt I couldn't put the book down, and others where I felt frustrated and I wanted things to move along faster. Like a movie where you keep waiting for the star-crossed lovers' to intersect paths, I kept waiting for the novel's climax. As I got closer to the story's end, I became even more engrossed, and was, frankly, rather disappointed with the ending itself. That's all I say to avoid spoiling.

Favorite quotes:
Arthur on why he reads obituaries: "& I told her I thought of it as an act of service, a way of commemorating & respecting. To think of each person individually, just for a moment, & to contemplate each life. The lonely ones especially, the childless or left behind. It is my church-because I do not go" (286)

"The closest to Charlene I ever felt was the very first time we met outside of school-the one time I helped her with her coat. If I could have helped her with her coat for hours, for the rest of her life, I would have" (340)
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