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Heavyweight

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Secrets. Their weight can be crushing, but their release can change everything—and not necessarily for the better. Ian is no stranger to secrets. Being a gay teen in a backwater southern town, Ian must keep his orientation under wraps, especially since he spends a lot of time with his hands all over members of the same sex, pinning their sweaty, hard bodies to the wrestling mat.

When he’s trying not to stare at teammates in the locker room, he’s busy hiding another secret—that he starves himself so he doesn’t get bumped to the next weight class.

Enter Julian Yang, an Adonis with mesmerizing looks and punk rocker style. Befriending the flirtatious artist not only raises suspicion among his classmates, but leaves Ian terrified he’ll give in to the desires he’s fought to ignore.

As secrets come to light, Ian’s world crumbles. Disowned, de-friended, and deserted by nearly everyone, Ian’s one-way ticket out of town is revoked, leaving him trapped in a world he hates—and one that hates him back.

230 pages, ebook

First published January 23, 2014

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About the author

M.B. Mulhall

6 books133 followers
MB Mulhall is a published author who typically has way too much on her plate. In between making vlogs and writing books, she tests her patience and pays the bills by helping to manage a home for developmentally disabled adults. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and Languages from Hofstra University as well as an Elementary Education degree from Georgian Court University.

She’s a crafter, a pet parent to a dog and two hedgehogs, a wife, a Jersey girl, a Whovian, and a lover of ink. Her next novel, Driven, is due out in March ’17 with Harmony Ink Press. You can find her all over social media posting pics of books, pets, and food porn.

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5 stars
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96 (41%)
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54 (23%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Jenni.
255 reviews36 followers
February 18, 2014
For me, the most intriguing thing about Heavyweight was Ian: a young guy who's struggling with both his sexuality and an eating disorder. And the wrestling part wasn't half bad, either.

I liked Ian a lot. He's a respectable, socially aware 17-year-old, and I thought his bravado and youth were pretty authentic. Ian is biding his time until he can head off to college—both to escape his alcoholic father and the confines of his small-minded hometown. Though he's not out, Ian knows he's gay, so things become slightly…challenging for him when new kid Julian comes to town.

I appreciated that Julian was comfortable with his sexuality, and that he seemed to respect where Ian was in terms of staying closeted—Julian didn't pressure Ian to be more than what Ian was comfortable with. I liked that Julian had a wicked sense of humor, too.

I thought it was refreshing to see an eating disorder written from the perspective of a young man, and I think it made sense from an athlete’s POV. But for some reason, it felt like the eating disorder was secondary to all the other things happening in the story (let's face it—there's a lot going on), which took away some of the authenticity and seriousness for me.

I really liked the supporting characters in Heavyweight, from Ian's friends, to his art teacher and wrestling coach. I thought they were rich additions to the story and did their best to help the characters move forward.

I was surprised at how bigoted the town/secondary characters are in Heavyweight. I'm not naive; I know discrimination is alive and kicking in 2014, but I don’t think it’s as widespread as entire schools/towns.

Along those lines, and something else that didn't really ring true was the way Ian’s school handled the bullying. We live in a world where schools are extraordinarily sensitive to issues like the ones raised in Heavyweight, and for the administrators to turn a blind eye to the circumstances Ian was facing seemed disingenuous and (I thought) sent the wrong message to young readers. I also didn't love the way Ian addressed the reader, and I thought there were times he and Julian came off as too adult in their speech/mannerisms.

While Heavyweight wasn't perfect, it served to educate; I do think it could be a really good fit for the younger crowd (good to know: tame sexy time/alluded to and off-page love scenes), and for those who enjoy reading YA and a regular basis.

Profile Image for Dylan.
547 reviews230 followers
September 21, 2017
4.5 stars.

TW for homophobia and eating disorders

REALLY enjoyed this one and the rep for queer boys with bulimia, but knocking half of a star because I felt like his sexuality took a little too much of the story and wanted it to talk more about his mental health.
Profile Image for Tina.
255 reviews85 followers
February 1, 2014
I haven’t had a lot of good experiences with YA titles recently. That Heavyweight wasn’t about an abusive situation made it stand out for me as something different. Plus a friend has been posting some very sexy photos of wrestlers on Facebook! I have a close friend whose son wrestled for seven years in school. I really tried to not notice his body, I really did, until he was 18. But man, I can’t imagine what it would have been like for a gay teenage boy to be rolling around with him all sweaty. Because his body was, and still is, a work of art. A natural athlete who also works out a lot, blonde hair and blue eyes. Deep dimples when he smiles.

I write all that, and reveal my inner pervert, to say that I had some very vivid mind pictures while reading Heavyweight. It is well written as a YA novel. It is suitable for a YA audience, which is something hard to find lately. Sex is alluded to, but for the most part happens off page or is vaguely described. I think M.B. Mulhall did a really great job getting into the mind of a teenager living in a small, intolerant southern town.

Ian is the best wrestler in his high school. He hopes to get a scholarship for college to get him out of his home town and away from his alcoholic father and doormat mother. Ian is also gay. He hasn’t told anyone because he knows how narrow minded and hate-filled the people are in his town.

One of the tricks to being a great wrestler is to stay at just the right weight. You want to be right at the top of your weight class, but not over it. Then you wrestle against opponents who are either smaller or the same weight as yourself. Ian has discovered that the only way he can make weight with all the food his mother and best friend try to feed him, is to binge and purge. Ian is anorexic and bulimic. When not supervised, he may go days without eating, but will continue his work outs. He hates himself for doing it, then feels guilty when he eats, so the cycle continues. My daughter is anorexic and bulimic. I felt Ian’s pain while he struggled with his illness. He feels pulled and pushed and fed and told not to eat everywhere he turned. But he needs to be the best or he’ll never get out of this town.

Enter Julian Yang. A new student who is flirtatious and artsy and just different. All the things a closed-minded small town hates. Ian becomes friends with Jules and finds they have more in common than anyone knows. Ian is drawn to Jules and equally afraid of him. He is afraid he’ll give in to the desire he feels for Jules. He’s afraid that by just being friends with Jules, people will assume he’s gay. In a sport like wrestling, gay boys need not apply. Ian has kept his hormones in check while participating in his sport, but if his sexuality is discovered, no one will want to wrestle him. Ian is also afraid that if he lets Jules get too close, his eating disorder will be discovered.

In a perfect storm of circumstance, Ian’s secrets escape. His family, best friend, teammates, classmates, even strangers all hate him now. He sees no way out of the hell that is his life. Jules, instead of being someone to fear, becomes a solace to Ian. His one and only soft place to fall.

M.B. Mulhall vividly portrays Ian’s fears and his dismay at the death of his dreams. Through the entire book, ups, downs and in-betweens, both Ian’s and Jules’s feelings were palpable. She captures the hopes and disappointments Jules feels when Ian pushes him away or pulls him close. The descriptive words used to make us feel what Ian felt were just perfectly chosen. I felt the pressure he was under and the guilt and shame over the lengths to which he went in order to meet the hopes that the entire team put on his shoulders.

The gentle way Jules and his sister and Aunt approached Ian, like one would an abused puppy. The surprise at his realization that he deserved their care and that there really were people who would love him, Ian. Not Ian the perfect son, not Ian the undefeated wrestler, not Ian the straight A student and perfect son, not Ian the heterosexual. Just Ian. My heart just broke into tiny little pieces as a mother seeing how Ian felt. Ms. Mulhall was able to bring those feelings to life for me. Boy, did I cry.

The M/M fiction market has grown so much in the last five or so years. Stories are told and retold. I don’t mean to insult writers, I admire them immensely, but there is nothing new under the sun, said someone, somewhere. Heavyweight felt original and fresh to me. It felt like a story that no one had told before. I really loved it and I look forward to more M/M from this author.
Profile Image for Jenna.
543 reviews33 followers
February 3, 2014
This book was ok, but there were too many irritating things that kept me from really enjoying it. The first person present tense with the narrator directly addressing the reader just didn't work for me. That's a matter of personal preference though. The other problems were things I just couldn't reconcile in my mind.

The result of Ian's eating disorder didn't make sense to me. With his physical stats and level of exercise, he'd require well over 3000 calories per day just to maintain his weight. However, he starved himself and purged the few times he did binge and every time he ate a regular meal, yet he didn't lose a single pound and in fact gained weight. It was just too difficult for me to believe that he'd manage to still average over 3200-3500 calories per day despite going days without eating anything then purging immediately after a single binge. He'd have to be binging much more frequently than was claimed for his body to absorb that many calories despite purging.

The other thing I found too difficult to believe was the reactions to sexuality. I can accept the weird looks and the bullying, and offensive comments by adults who should know better. I can even accept him so I just couldn't see that happening. Even if I was able to accept that situation, it would make it impossible to believe that everyone would

All that to say, too much seemed contradictory to me, but other than that, it wasn't a bad story.
Profile Image for Chris-Wait-For-It-Awesome.
350 reviews36 followers
January 31, 2014
WOW!!! I absolutely loved this book. There were moments were I wanted to scream: STOP! Can't you see what you're doing to this wonderful human being? I almost cried at parts and I loved Jules and Mei Li! Great read!!!
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,292 reviews412 followers
February 14, 2014
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.5 stars


The strength of this young adult novel is that it deals with heavy themes that are often ignored, and does it well. Eating disorders are often explored in novels, but very seldom with males, even though it is not that uncommon in young adult males, especially amongst wrestlers who are trying to maintain a certain weight class. Mulhall does a wonderful job of exploring the psyche of this underrepresented group of people and showing how emotionally damaging it can be just to be a kid in high school, with pressures from family and coaches and peers. It’s heartbreaking to read Ian’s story, yet it’s also easy to believe the emotional journey that he takes.

Read Amy's review in its entirety here.
Profile Image for karlakolumna.
502 reviews43 followers
February 20, 2014
Not quite 4 stars, but more than 3.

As far as YA novels go, this was pretty good, heart wrenchingly good at times.
Ian's desperation to escape his drunk, abusive father and the small, narrow minded town he grew up in, and the measures he's willing to take in order to leave as soon as possible are utterly well portrayed, narrated.

The tentative, developing, blossoming love between Ian and Jules is sweet and lovely.

But I gotta say that the high school's, the teacher's and the town's reaction in general was way over the top. At least I'd like to think that
Profile Image for Andrea.
928 reviews51 followers
September 6, 2016
So, I read the sample of this book and thought it was good but hadn't intended to buy it because of the price...however I accidentally clicked the wrong button and bought it and I am quite glad I did. This was a surprisingly good book...like I read it in one sitting...it's now nearly 3:15am but it was quite worth it. :)

I actually like all of the characters (well aside from the villains of the story) which is quite rare for me. So kudos to M.B. Mulhall!!

Profile Image for Rebecca A.
189 reviews13 followers
April 2, 2014
This is a hard review for me to write. The thing is? It should be hard. Eating disorders, racism, and homophobia should never be a light topic in any situation. This is a heavy book and, for a lot of people, it isn't going to be a their cup of tea. Perhaps the most distressing thing is that, for all that we talk about anti bullying? Hate is still alive and well in far too many lunch rooms. This is one of the better books I've read in the recent years that truly tackles these subjects. Immense in it's realism on the subject matters it tackles, M.B. Mulhall deserves every award in the book for not taking the easy route on this. It's gritty ,and at times very hard to handle, but the way Mulhall crafts the story allows it to be the punch in the face it should be.

It's been over 24 hours since I finished this book and I'm still grappling with myself and my need to do this book the kind of justice it did for the kid who's scared to come out of the closet, the kid who feels the immense pressure to be perfect, or the kid who walks with their shoulders hunched, hoping to God the student body won't tear them down for something so far beyond their control such as race or sexual orientation. Still I'm going to attempt to do this book some semblance of justice.

Ian has a lot of secrets. From his home life to his sexuality to the way he stays in his weight class. He's breaking under the stress. Underneath all that baggage though? Ian is a great person. He will do anything to protect the people he loves. Even if it means he'll take the fall for it. In the beginning, he has one good friend and, luckily for Ian? Clay is a good friend. Clay has his moments, just as we all do. He's human. he has moments where he is an ass and he says things that no one should ever say about another person, even if it is over jealousy. But, in the end, bro are bros because Clay's got Ian's back no matter what.

I want to make it clear that this Ian's story. It's about his struggle with his parents, his future, and trying to be true to himself. His home life isn't ideal, it's clear his mother loves him but, as often is the case? His mother is loyal to his father. No matter how much she loves her son, she'll never choose Ian over her husband. Ian's father is a leech on society who is content to live off the system while reliving his glory days. Discontent with the way his life turned out he is determined to have Ian live as he does. He wants him to quit school, a constant mantra of his was something along the lines of '8 years was enough schooling for me, why do you need more.' He constantly tried to tear his son down for 'not being good enough.'

Ian needs control. However when twins Julian and Mei Li come into town? It turns his entire world upside down. It makes the lines he's set for himself blur. For the first time in his life he's attracted to another man that's in the same school as him. And the town Ian lives in is very narrow minded and very white. I'm not saying that all towns are like this, but I know a lot of towns here in the south that are just like it. Justin and Mei Lei are treated awfully from the get go and Ian's ex girlfriend targets her from the minute they lock eyes.

I loved the friendship between Ian and Mei Lei and how it progressed. I also loved how it was a completely separate thing from what he had with her brother. She became like his sister in a way.

Something very very wonderful about this story is that is was not just about the romance. I said before that it was Ian's story and I was serious. This is about his battle with himself and against his outward demons. That being said? The romance was omg steamy. I definitely had to fan myself a few times.

I did like the end result of the book. I liked the resolution. It showed that, even in a narrow minded place, there are still a lot of people that see the person, not the orientation.

Whether the reader realizes it or not? Ian was lucky in so many ways. Not everybody else is.

It's a great book. I hope you'll pick it up. I promise it's worth every word.
Profile Image for Patricia Lynne.
Author 20 books107 followers
February 2, 2014
I received a PDF of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, but also own the paperback.

I first learned of this story when the author posted an excerpt on her blog. The plot intrigued me and I was eager to get my hands on it and read the whole story. I was not disappointed. Ian's struggle had me turning the pages quickly, scared things would fall apart and he wouldn't get a happy ending. Things did fall apart - real life isn't all rainbows and sunshine and the author did not shy from making things hard for Ian. I found the fact that Ian relapsed into his eating disorder believable. Disorders can be a life long struggle and it's important for those suffering to know it's not weak of them to relapse and have to climb back on the wagon. The fact Ian is a boy suffering from bulimia is important to seeing how you see a lot of stories about girls struggling with it, but not many boys.

My only niggle was when Ian was discovered gay and the very cruel reactions from others. At times it seemed over the top. That couldn't happen in real life, could it? But the sad fact is, I know that it can. Ian wasn't completely shunned though. I do wish there had been more scenes outside of his friends showing their support. It was mentioned in passing, but I would have like to be shown those moments.

Overall, MB Mulhall wrote a brilliant and important story dealing with eating disorders. The teenagers were believable, and the romance between Ian and Julian was sweet (bordering cheesy a few times.)
Profile Image for Rynn Yumako.
585 reviews34 followers
January 18, 2015
Loved this book.

I liked the voice the author decided to give Ian. He felt very real, both in the way he approached Julian, his own family, and his (mostly unrealized) eating disorder. The chemistry between Ian and Julian was one of the best part of this, but I also liked how easily Ian connected with Julian's sister, and how he found a new family by the end. I liked to hate Ian's father, and the physical confrontation between them and the consequent stay at the Yang's made for a nicely done hurt/comfort read.

My only problem was, that Ian's ED was never really dealt with. Yes, by the end he realized he had a problem, and was willing to go see someone about it, but it was never mentioned again, and it wouldn't just magically go away considering his love for wrestling. Yet by the end, nobody seemed to remember it ever existed. It bothered me a bit, but I get that dealing with their relationship and his family life was more important to the story. Also Mei-Li's own sexual harassment confession - though expected - was a bit jarring in the end, felt out of place with the whole preparing for the dance part.

Otherwise a highly recommended read, 4 stars from me.
Profile Image for jules0623.
2,517 reviews8 followers
April 23, 2017
3.5 stars.

Pros: Unusual subject matter for this genre and it was well handled, if pushed to the background more than I liked. It was refreshing to see that there were few 'magic' solutions: the eating disorder wasn't cured by the shock of hospitalisation, the mother didn't suddenly stand up to the father after years of abuse. Likable characters and nicely paced.

Cons: The reaction of the principal didn't ring true and it was quite jarring. It was overdramatic and disappointing. Yes, there are asshats like this in the world and in positions of power, but they are cowards who, as much as they dislike it, are working with strict anti-discrimination laws and rules. A school with such a rigid no-tolerance bullying policy is unlikely to react to a student being outed by immediately suggesting 'pray the gay away' camps and kicking the kids out.
Profile Image for DL.
964 reviews
February 2, 2014
Ian was likable, troubled, but likable. Which was fortunate since this was told in first person. The supporting characters were great. For once, here is a YA with decent women in it. What ruins it are the men. Almost ever very single grown man, is a bigoted jerk. The exception was the coach. The entire town was a bigoted mess. I don't think the town was set in the 60's; it seemed contemporary so I find it hard to believe that a school could ban students for being gay. It just doesn't compute.
Profile Image for The Novel Approach.
3,071 reviews134 followers
February 17, 2014
In a perfect storm of circumstance, Ian’s secrets escape. His family, best friend, teammates, classmates, even strangers all hate him now. He sees no way out of the hell that is his life. Jules, instead of being someone to fear, becomes a solace to Ian. His one and only soft place to fall.


See the entire review at The Novel Approach: http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/20...
Profile Image for Katherine.
28 reviews1 follower
May 4, 2014
I enjoyed this because it touches ED in males, in athletes.

I enjoyed this because I'm from a small town. Because I can poignantly imagine the fear and hurt caused by being in a place like this and not being their normal.
It hurts because I can imagine this happening to people I know, to students I may teach.
I didn't want to give up the characters at the end.
Profile Image for Amanda .
979 reviews60 followers
January 28, 2014
This was...a YA book. Written like a YA book. Read like a YA book. It's been so long since I've read young adult, I think I forgot. So if I review it as a YA book, I'd give it 4 stars.
Regardless, It was good. I loved the story line.
Profile Image for A.
268 reviews2 followers
August 3, 2016
4.5 Stars. Review to Come.
Profile Image for Michael Portrie.
3 reviews3 followers
July 31, 2014
Many people simply don't believe that boys can suffer from eating disorders. This book is the first YA I have read that actually deals with this, I was impressed by the subject matter.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
14 reviews
December 2, 2014
This was a really great read. The characters are well-written and the story is solid. The main character is someone you can sympathize with, but also see his flaws.
Profile Image for Elisa Rolle.
Author 72 books219 followers
December 6, 2015
2014 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)
Profile Image for adik miftakhur.
212 reviews14 followers
February 18, 2018
I was so deeply in love with this book, still is though. It makes me cannot move to read another book. I don't know what to read next though. I have been trying to read Finding Audrey and Noah Can't Even, also a book on my kindle, yet I still cannot move on from this book. :( So tragic, I know. All I can say right now is the book brought so many feels to me, from happy to sad feelings. It taught me a lot of thing too. Something like 'people have to act like others if you want to fit in their society' which the society happens that way a lot nowadays. I'm going to explain it on the next section though. So, I'm going to write two sections right now, first would be about the book characters, and the story plot would be the next one.

Characters: every character inside the books is so supportive I guess, except Megan (at first), Ian's father, and Megan's current boyfriend. I was so in love with Julian aka Jules for being such a protective twin brother to Mei-Li . Also I fell in love with Ian, yess I know he's kinda jerk, but believe me it's so damn hard to come out to people when you're gay, I could feel him. I was so head over heels for Jules as well for being such a good boyfriend for Ian.

Story-Plot: the story plot is so easy to understand. Like what I said above, the story told about every way you have to do to fit in a society you live in. It's about Ian for starving himself to be fit in a wrestling group. Yikes, I felt for him. Plus it's pretty hard to live in a world when people see being gay or something is a disease or something. That's odd, I guess.

So over all, I fell in love with the book, a lot. Highly recommend it to whomever want to read something what would surely change your perspective on so many things. :)
Profile Image for Eleonor.
115 reviews15 followers
April 23, 2018
*2.5

Meh. This book didn’t really give me anything. It was cliché as heck and didn’t really portray the eating disorder aspect in a believable way. It was there and then it wasn’t and that’s that. No mental struggle at all really, just a word to give the story a plot if you catch my meaning. Also the medical side to the disorder was really exaggerated and just not correct at all.

It’s sad because the story could’ve been really good if the author had done her research properly, added some depth to it and thrown away the clichés. But at least it highlights that not every person with an eating disorder is stick-thin, so that’s something it did right I guess.
2 reviews
June 5, 2019
First things first, just like Ian, with Julian it was love on first sight.
I honestly enjoyed this book. It wasn't like those heartbreaking books that will make you weep for weeks. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't boring at all. It had some shocking parts, and for me it isn't common to have a book in my hands and be unable to put it down. Sure, the writing was a bit too simple, but the book as a book was delightful, and every two to three pages there was some kind of twist, and then whoops, it has swallowed you without you even noticing.
September 1, 2022
The book starts off really strong the way the author handles the topic of his eating disorder and the authors choice of male protagonist had me really roped in but the ending as someone from a very bigoted town was very wattpady I do not really know how else to describe it and honestly left me wanting to give this a one star because of how much it made me cringe so my recomendation if you really want to read this book is read it up in till the end and make your own ending in your head lol.
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