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The Weight of Him

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  879 ratings  ·  278 reviews
In The Weight of Him Billy Brennan undergoes an unforgettable journey in a startling attempt to resurrect his family and reignite hearts, his own most of all.

At four hundred pounds, Billy can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food's colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feeli
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Atlantic Books (first published February 14th 2017)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  879 ratings  ·  278 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor
3.5 Billy is a large man, over 400 pounds and also a very sad man. His family, three remaining children, his wife, is in tatters after the suicide of his eldest son, only 17. He can't help going over and over the things he did wrong, his son left no note, and no one noticed anything wrong, not friends, not family. Food has always been his comfort but he decides to make his son's suicide count for something, to make a difference in suicide prevention. So with virtually no family support Billy set ...more
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Billy Brennan has worked as an inspector at a toy manufacturing company for twenty years. His family is grieving the recent suicide of their eldest son Michael. He was only seventeen years old when he took his own life and he did not leave a note.

Billy weighs 401 pounds and has had difficulty with obesity throughout his life. He has been warned by his doctor that he is unhealthy and will face future medical issues if he does not change his lifestyle. Using grief as a motivator, he organizes a f
4.5 Stars

Nobody's perfect. We all have flaws in some way, shape or form as do the characters in this story, but as THE WEIGHT OF HIM shows, those of us with imperfections have value too!

Billy Brennan is morbidly obese, and he has recently lost his teenage son to suicide. (no spoiler here) With little to no family support, Big Billy decides to go public on a quest to lose 200 pounds (half his body weight) to benefit Suicide Prevention Awareness, but finds the journey is filled with the most form

Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Weight of Him is a deeply moving novel about a grieving family and in the center of that grieving family, Billy Brennan, the patriarch, over four hundred pounds and struggling with his oldest child's suicide, the body he lives in, and food that has long been his comfort and companion. To raise awareness about suicide Billy decides to lose weight with sponsors from his local community and the novel follows him as he tries to grieve, to lose weight, and become more present in his life and to h ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Brennan, severely obese, is on a mission after the suicide of his son Michael. He wants to to lose over 200lbs and begins a public weight loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention.

We follow him through this crusade of his, and also how he and his family deal with the aftermath of his son's death.

I really liked this story, and all these characters! Also, this story is set in Ireland, and the descriptions of the landscape renew my wish to go there.

Thank you to NetGalley and the p
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Weight of Him was a nice surprise. The book's description makes it sound like somewhat of a humorous book, but it's actually quite meaty and emotionally charged -- in a good way. Billy lives in a small village in Ireland with his wife and children. He weighs 400 pounds and his family has recently suffered a terrible tragedy. With the odds stacked against him, Billy sets out to find a way to improve his life and eke something positive out of his family's recent tragedy. His family is less tha ...more
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

----Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi

Ethel Rohan, an Irish author, has penned an extremely heart touching story called The Weight of Him that revolves around an obese father's loss over his elder son who has committed suicide, and his journey to deal with grief and heal over the loss of his loved one lead him on a path to weight loss but sadly that pushes him away from his dear family and his wife. Set in an idyllic back ground of Ireland, t
Special thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of THE WEIGHT OF HIM by Ethel Rohan in exchange for an honest review.

The story is set in rural contemporary Ireland and I feel drawn to the picturesque countryside. (Hoping to visit Ireland someday.)

Micheal Brennan, age seventeen and eldest child of Billy and Tricia, cut down the clothesline and took his own life while his family was sleeping. They are now trying to cope. You can feel the tension in the home. T
The two-fold meaning of this title speaks to both the physical size of Billy Brennan and the incredible burden carried after losing his eldest son to suicide. Both are crushing in their own way, the loss of Michael certainly being the worst to bear. And although the feelings that Billy's obesity have caused cannot be compared to the pain of losing a son, it is the burden that he has carried all his life, the thing that has defined him, the onus that has also been the comfort to hide behind. Grie ...more
For some reason, I found myself reading a few pages of this book and then needing to stop for a while. It could have been the subject matters of suicide and grief, but most likely it was the subject matter of food. Billy Brennan is trying to go from 401 to 200 pounds, quickly, to honor his dead son and raise money for suicide prevention. Feeling constant hunger and deprivation, he dreams about the food he so dearly loves. He describes huge delicious meals he has enjoyed, and wanting to climb int ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This actually very short book has taken me weeks to read because it’s made me so cross each time I’ve picked it up again yet somehow I hoped it would pick up. Nope. This is a tale of a man who after his sons suicide decides to loose half his 400 pound weight to make a statement and amends. Many people will love it. I found it moralistic and manipulative.
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, family-drama, drama
Big Billy is shaken to action with the death of his son. He decides to do something about suicide prevention and also about himself. He decides to lose half of his staggering 400 pounds of weight. He is a very relate-able character in that who hasn't had a tragedy in their life that has deeply changed everything. I was quickly drawn into this story and I felt touched by Big Billy's efforts to deal with the death of his son. Really touching story that reminded me of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Har ...more
When one reads the summary of this book, they stumble onto a word they don't think about much until they pick up the book and see for themselves how crucial that word is in describing it. That keyword is picturesque.
Mrs. Rohan writes beautifully, interlacing the complex emotion of the characters throughout the text. From the first sentence I was met by the feeling of melancholy, and that continued throughout. The characters are well-developed, and the story itself is amazing, gripping and inspir
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book has a lot of heart. I just loved Anna and Billy. Billy Brennan decides to lose half his body weight for a fundraiser to help in the prevention of suicide. Billy has lost his son Michael to suicide and everywhere Billy looks he sees his son Michael who he lost to suicide. You can feel the tension between Tricia and Billy sometimes in the beginning of the book when they are reeling from their heartbreaking loss. Their relationship is solid and it improves
Jennifer Blankfein
Billy Brennan is overweight, 401 lbs to be exact. He and his wife Tricia just lost their oldest teenage son Michael to suicide, and with no recollection of the boy being unhappy and no note of explanation, they are blindsided and distraught. This horrific tragedy has left the family in shambles. As the couple and their 3 remaining children struggle in their grief to reclaim an element of normalcy, Billy steps out of his typical complacency and decides he will make a big change in his own life an ...more
Jasmine Holloman
***I received this book as a part of Goodreads First Reads***

This novel was so beautiful. I am still grappling with the emotions that occurred while reading page after page. It informed me on so many things about suicide that I had never known. It is heartbreaking to know that families of suicide have to endure an inquest, on top of the emotions of having to grieve their loss. It makes me wish that their were many more Billy's in this world to inform everyone about all of the elements of suicide
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookstr-com
This beautiful book broke my heart. The author's prose pulled me so far into this story that I was emotionally attached to Big Billy and his wonderful family. What an amazing job Rohan did in tackling two very complex subjects, obesity and suicide. I was right there with Billy struggling to lose weight and I felt the family's grief over the loss of their son. Billy wants to make a difference. He wants to keep his sons memory alive. So he vows to lose half his weight to raise money for suicide pr ...more
Danielle Mootz
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am very moved by this book. The subject matter is very personal to me and my family. The author did an incredible job developing characters struggling with suicide and obesity. But really a beautifully written portrait of what it is to be human. The last few pages tied the book together emotionally for me. Very glad to have read this book.
Shirley Revill
I listened to the audiobook version of this book and the narration was really good and added to the story.
A suicide in the family at the young age of 17 leaves a family in tatters and struggling to survive as a family unit.
Each of us deals with grief in our own way and their must be nothing as devastating as to lose a child, especially to suicide.
We are not supposed to be burying our own children and suicide leaves no answers as to why.
Billy deals with losing his child that is very different to
Dela Knight
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ORIGNALLY POSTED ON: http://pastriesandnovelthoughts.weebl...

Billy Brennan is a four hundred pound man, his family is heartbroken and his life is chaos. After Billy's son, Micheal, kills himself, Billy decides to make a difference in memory of his son. Billy decides to do a weight loss campaign for suicide prevention.

​"He could really do good with this, and make some(thing) meaningful out of the awful."

On his weight loss journey, Billy, makes a lot of allies like his community and co-workers. I
A longer review is available on my blog:

I found this book to be a bit more depressing than hopeful. I believe that the author intended it to be hopeful and there were some hopeful parts but the overall novel just didn't move me the way that I would have hoped. There were some very insightful thoughts on suicide and death, in general, towards the end of the book but the book mostly centered around Billy's struggle to lose weight and "save lives". The charac
Sansriti Tripathi
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sad, haunting, and so good...
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel dealt with two painful and difficult issues--obesity and suicide--in a touching way that met all the challenges head on.
Karen ⊰✿
The title of this novel is apt as Billy is weighed down so heavily with grief, and also by his literal weight. Billy is a father of four and over 400 pounds. After years of hiding himself being his weight and working in a factory in small town Ireland, his world is turned upside down when his 17 year old son hangs himself. No note. No idea as to why.
So Billy decides he needs to make this loss worth something and wants to lose 200 pounds to raise money for suicide awareness. Throughout his person
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
An ARC giveaway in exchange for an honest review,
"The Weight of Him" is a remarkable novel, both tragic and inspirational.
Billy Brennan weighs 400 pounds and struggles everyday with his cravings and the emotional need to "hide".
One day, in the wake of a family tragedy, he decides that he's going to lose half of his wight. 200 pounds. He plans to get pledges and raise money for suicide awareness.
He wants to do some good in the aftermath of the event that changed his family's lives forever.
He orga
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big Billy Brennan and his wife Tricia are devastated by the loss of their 17 year old son Michael who one night with no warning, cut down their clothesline and used it to end his life. They have spoken to his friends, heard the crazy rumors, but never found a reason that may have led Michael to suicide.
As Billy tries to come to terms with what has happened, to find a way to make Michael's life and death count for something, his family becomes more angry and embarrassed by it all, and by Billy h
Meghan Ward
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I couldn't stop turning the pages, anxious to see if Big Billy Brennan was going to succeed in losing 200 pounds and whether his quest to raise suicide awareness was going to tear his family apart. Ethel Rohan is an incredibly talented writer, able to keep the reader on edge while at the same time delving deep into the emotional lives of her characters. The Weight of Him is both heartbreaking and inspirational—the perfect read for anyone overcoming a loss or trying to achieve ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an important story to be told. An over weight man dealing with the loss of his oldest son. Billy is a character I won't soon forget. Such suffering he endured. Great novel for adults. Excellent writing and story telling! ...more
Kathy Heare Watts
I won a copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am paying it forward by donating it a local library.
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Ethel Rohan is the author of In the Event of Contact, winner of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize (May, 2021). Her debut novel The Weight of Him (St. Martin's Press and Atlantic Books, 2017) was an Amazon, Bustle, KOBO, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book, and was shortlisted for the Reading Women Award. She is also the author of the story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the B ...more

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