Hannah's Reviews > Heavy: An American Memoir

Heavy by Kiese Laymon
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really liked it
bookshelves: memoir

I find this memoir near impossible to review for a number of reasons:

the book was near impossible to read for me;
the book is brilliant;
the book is not written for me.

If you only take one thing from my review, let it be this: Kiese Laymon is utterly, utterly brilliant. On a simple sentence by sentence level his writing is absolutely stunning, it wrecked me in the perfection of his prose. But even more so, the structure of this memoir is impeccable and the way he tells his story and makes is points is just brilliant. I read very many memoirs but it is rare that I have a reaction as visceral as I had here. The whole book is a lesson in how to gut your reader with your words. And I mean this in the best possible way (and the worst: it took me forever to finish this because I needed to take breaks to read something else).

Laymon tells the story of his body – and how his relationship to his body is influenced by his difficult relationship to his mother. The way he grounds his experiences in the way his body reacted to them added a layer to this memoir that I appreciated immensely. Written in second person narration addressing his mum, Laymon lays it all bare for the world to see. Especially the first and last chapters really drove home how incredible his craft is and how deep the cuts his life made are. I found the book near unbearable in the claustrophobia of the unfairness of it all: the unfairness of racism, of poverty, of eating disorder, of addiction. The book is this successful because it is written for black people rather than about black people – a point Laymon makes at various points throughout the book, something he learned from his mother and his own mistakes.

Ultimately this is an intimate love/hate letter to the most important person in his life and I feel very grateful to have been able to read this.

You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
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Reading Progress

March 4, 2018 – Shelved
March 4, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
October 18, 2018 – Started Reading
October 19, 2018 –
page 47
18.36% "This is astonishingly brilliant and beyond heartbreaking."
December 31, 2018 – Shelved as: memoir
December 31, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Ames-Foley Can't wait to see your full review!


message 2: by Renee (new)

Renee Godding Looking forward to your full review!


message 3: by Rachael (new) - added it

Rachael (shereadsshenoms) I've just requested my library order this in, so have fingers crossed they do!


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Fantastic review, Hannah!


Hannah Thank you, Melissa!


Lzarrow I just finished this book and your review sums up my thoughts better than I ever could. Thank you.


Hannah Thank you so much, Lzarrow!


Marsha Manuel Fabulous review...


Hannah Thank you, Marsha!


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