The Weight of Him Paperback – 1 Feb 2018
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Ethel Rohan shows herself to be one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the 'ordinary' and show just how extraordinary it really is. A brave and moving book. -- John Banville The Weight of Him conjures all the grief and regret of a family who has suffered an insurmountable loss. Out of this burning sorrow rises Big Billy Brennan, a father who attempts the seemingly impossible - to change the world. Ethel Rohan captures a blend of comedy and tragedy that is entirely true to family, hometown, and our own private struggles. Poignant and inspiring. -- Eowyn Ivey, international bestselling author of THE SNOW CHILD Deeply moving and memorable. -- Roxane Gay Ethel Rohan is a writer of great courage and emotional intelligence. She can also tell a damn good story. The Weight of Him is about loss and about life. It is involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful. -- Tom Barbash, author of STAY UP WITH ME Sweet and profound, true and honest, The Weight of Him is a book to make the world a better place. -- Elisabeth Gifford Extraordinary. -- Caroline Leavitt How can a story about death be so life affirming? Ethel Rohan's compassionate debut novel is sad, heartbreaking even, but also uplifting, a celebration of the determination to keep on trying. -- Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of MOTHERS, TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS The Weight of Him is an achingly sad, achingly lovely novel that speaks to the essential core of our shared human experience. I will not soon forget it. Ethel Rohan, a prodigiously skilled short story writer, has proved herself, in this debut novel, to be a master of the long form as well. -- Robert Olen Butler, author of PERFUME RIVER
'Ethel Rohan shows herself to be one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the 'ordinary' and show just how extraordinary it really is. A brave and moving book.' John BanvilleSee all Product description
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I really enjoyed getting to know Billy and understood his problems with eating. I loved the writing style and the feelings that this story brought to me. I loved how threw everything into prevention of suicide. A great must read for 2017.
I loved how the author really captured the grief and despair that had hit the family - the unanswered questions as to why their son had chosen to take his own life, the trying to stay strong for their other children and how it affected the relationship between the parents and children. As Billy sets out on a quest to use his weight loss as a positive in raising funds and awareness for the awfully high suicide rates, he meets others along the way in similar positions and also tries to get his message out to the media of just how important awareness is, and not just to be seen as a freak show because of his weight issues. He wants to take control back.
His family doesn't always support him on his journey and you can understand the torment they must all be going through - some wanting to hide away and not to have anymore attention brought to them - and I loved how Billy finds solace in the broken toys he 'liberates' from work and how he finds that connection back to happier times with his son Michael.
The topics discussed in this book are sympathetically dealt with by the author and really captures the conflicting feelings that those grieving are often left with, while looking back on happier times that they shared with Michael and trying to understand why they couldn't help him. Was it something they'd done? Why didn't he talk to them? Why?
A very powerful and poignant story with a number of layers and I can highly recommend it
I loved the character of Billy and how he was in a way punishing himself by dieting and exercising excessively instead of doing it sensibly. Each member of his family are trying to cope with the loss of Michael in their own different ways and Billy is not supported or encouraged in any way.
I loved the scenes in the garage where he has made a village of broken toys and uses them to represent his family and it is so moving and you feel the pain he is going through.
A really good read that represents the grief and pain of coping with suicide and also the isolation that being morbidly obese can cause.
Already struggling with his health, weight and personal relationships; Big Billy Brennan finds himself unable to cope when his family suffer a great tragedy.
Michael, their eldest son; a well-liked and seemingly confident teen; commits suicide.
Whilst wife & mother Tricia thinks that trying to return some semblance of normality to family life is the way forward, Billy sees it as an impetus to improve his life and that of those around him.
Inspired by their youngest kids' sponsored walkathon, Billy decides to get fit whilst simultaneously raising both funds and awareness for suicide prevention charities.
He embarks on a weightloss and exercise programme that very quickly takes over his life. Weighing in at over 400 lbs, he decides he wants to lose half; the only problem is, he is so morbidly obese and unfit that even walking to the garden gate is a struggle!
Although he has a few moments of weakness, he gradually garners the support of colleagues, reporters and the local residents; and this spurs him on.
The only problem is, those he feels should be supporting him the loudest; his wife, kids, sister and parents; all, for various reasons of their own, don't want him to succeed.
The cover is intriguing; the illustration seems light-hearted, in direct juxtaposition with the subject material.
Further into the story, there is also an element of who will fill Michael's boots on the farm.
The author's vivid descriptions of Billy's thoughts & feelings, and his all-consuming desperate need of; and enjoyment from; comfort eating make for uncomfortable reading.
Each member of the Brennan family is trying to cope with the pain of their loss in the best way they can. I can understand Billy's need to do something, but Tricia's wish to try to return their day-to-day to normality (or as normal as it can be) is equally as valid.
However I must admit to feeling an irrational amount of irritation with regards to the responses of the grandparents. At first, it seems they are just old and set in their ways, but as we learn more about Billy's own childhood, it becomes clear that they have always been particularly cold.
Hopefully Billy finds some peace through his weightloss and improved wellbeing endeavours and perhaps as he feels better both about and within himself, so too will the rest of the family.
The author writes about the family's feelings of loss, grief and uncertainty in a thoughtful manner and whilst saddening in places, i can imagine that reading it at or after a time of loss may prove a useful aid to processing the mixed emotions felt.
On a personal note, I know one of our family stories that always encites giggles is from around the time of my father passing away. Anyone looking from outside would probably find it somewhat crass but the reality was (and still is) that this particular moment of mild hysteria kept us going.
•Rating & Recommendations
A touching story, I rate this bittersweet and uplifting tale 4 out of 5 stars.
The author deals with highly emotive subjects such as suicide, addiction, grief and loss in a sensitive manner; whilst introducing just the right amount of humour.
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