Thursday, June 7, 2012

Heft - Liz Moore (Audio)

I heard nothing about this book until Ti (Book Chatter) gave me a sales job that I couldn't ignore.  Then Jackie (Farm Lane Books) gave it 4 1/2 stars, something that rarely happens.  My library had it on audio, so it quickly made its way to the top of my priority list.  


Synopsis:  Arthur Opp, formerly an academic and college professor, is now a 550-pound recluse who hasn't left his Brooklyn home in a decade.  He orders everything he needs from the Internet, and has little reason to maintain any sense of order or hygiene in his life, since he has no friends.  His best friend died years ago, and his one love interest, one of his old students named Charlene, hasn't been in touch in years.


Across town, Charlene's son Kel is having struggles of his own.  His mother is an embarrassment...she is always sick (she has Lupus), she drinks too much, and they are poor.  Kel's father left them when Kel was just a boy, often leaving the boy to fend for himself.  But Kel is part of the in-crowd at school, is athletically gifted, and is even being recruited by a professional baseball team.  

But when Charlene reaches out to Arthur after nearly 20 years, asking him to mentor Kel through the college application process, a sequence of events are set in motion that will change both Kel and Arthur forever.


My thoughts:  Despite the fact that this story contains a great deal of heartbreak, it filled my heart with love and emotion until it was overflowing.  I was amazed at the care and sensitivity that Moore took in exploring not one but two emotionally-charged and highly misunderstood afflictions...morbid obesity and Lupus.  She puts kind, lovable human faces on a ragtag cast of characters that you wish you knew in real life.


There WERE moments when I had no earthly clue where the author was going.  Generally, you know almost from the beginning that Charlene is the link between our two anti-heroes, and you have an idea of what the end of the story will look like, but there is an awful lot of wandering around in between.  You meet a young, unmarried pregnant maid, you watch Arthur struggle with unresolved issues with his father, you cringe when Kel makes a series of bad choices that threaten to derail him, you cross your fingers when Kel finds love, and weep when he discovers a side of his mother he never knew.  Lots and lots of wandering.  But I didn't really mind.  I was completely drawn into their lives.


The ending did give me pause.  It was not an ambiguous ending...I had a firm idea of what would take place after the last page had been turned.  But it was left unfinished, with a lingering final note of hope and optimism.  I found it both unsettling and satisfying, and I walked away with the feeling that not only would this book be on my mind for days and weeks to come, but would likely end up on my list of favorites at year end.


A few words about the audio production:  I can't emphasize enough about how perfect I found this audio.  It was narrated by two persons...Kirby Heyborne, as Kel, and Keith Szarabajka, as Arthur.  I don't believe I've ever heard either of them before, although it appears they have both participated in many narration projects.  Kirby has the pleasant voice of a teenage boy, and Keith has a gorgeous, deep, velvety voice with a slight accent.  Both are a pleasure to listen to, and made this book a must-listen.


5 out of 5 stars        
      
       

14 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

wow - both you and Ti - hard to resist!

Jenners said...

I got sucked into listening to this by the same folks!! I am about halfway through right now and wondering just where it will go. I prefer Arthur's narration though … Kel's sometimes strikes me as too flat and "readerly." Still, I'm intrigued and anxious to see where it ends up.

Jenny said...

I was pretty much about to say the same thing Jill did... with you and Ti both saying it's one of the best of 2012 I think it would be hard to ignore this one. =) I'll have to check it out.

JoAnn said...

First Ti, then Jackie, and now you.. I'll definitely be listening, too.

Meg @ write meg! said...

On the surface, this might not have been a book I would go for . . . but I'm definitely convinced after your glowing review! It's good to know the author handles such sensitive subjects with care. That's crucial.

Anita said...

I saw Jennifer Weiner giving a lot of attention to this one earlier, but with your rec. well I might add to my audio list, which thanks to you is just growing!! My library isn't as good, but not awful!! Thanks for the review, seems like some tough subject matters.

Ti said...

I knew you would like this one. I loved that the ending was not perfect but hopeful. And even though the maid was an odd character to add in there... I loved her. I loved how matter-of-fact she was and how she made things simple.

Marion said...

A fantastic book full of unusual and endearing characters.Great review!

Marie said...

I really need to get this. I saw Liz Moore read at an event in Cambridge and I really liked it but I wasn't in a buying mood that night and didn't pick the book up. Need to change that!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

OK a 5 out of 5 plus calling it a perfect audio... I need to listen to this one!

Gavin said...

Ti got me interested and you have sealed the deal. It is on my library hold list!

Beth F said...

I heard a presentation on this at BEA and thought I should add it to my list. Now with your review, I think I need to do the audio.

Jackie Bailey said...

I'm so pleased that you loved this one too. I know it will end up on my end of year favourite list. Glad the audio was as good as the print. :-)

Melissa said...

I haven't heard of this one either, but a 5 from you on an audio instantly has me searching my library.