Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Heft (the book)
"The first thing you must know about me is that I am colossally fat.......Second, in my letters to you these past two decades I have been untruthful by omission.....Last and most important: I no longer go out of my house."
There is something so honest about Arthur and that is obvious in the opening letter. As the story unfolds, we learn that Arthur is not only honest, he is also honorable. As Arthur's life begins to change, the reader can feel his insecurities. His fears and flaws become palatable and I, for one, wanted to be his friend.
A parallel story features 18 year old Kel Keller. The first time the reader meets him, Kel has just arrived home to find his mother passed out on the living room floor. His thoughts? "My God she's dead is what I think. She's dead this time." Clearly, Kel has been down this road before. Kel has become his mother's caretaker, the way children of substance abusers sometimes do. And, like some children of substance abusers, Kel is also resilient and mature beyond his years. He is an athlete, bound, he hopes, for the world of professional sports. Even though he has perfected the act of "cool high school guy", he is not arrogant and, in fact, I wanted to be his friend too.
There is an interesting juxtaposition here. In some respects, Arthur seems like a scared child who has lived a very confined and "safe" life. Kel seems like an adult who has risen to take on the world. By the end of the story, Arthur has grown up and Kel has been able to grow down. Arthur becomes someone who can care for himself and others and Kel becomes someone who can let others care for him.
How these two connect is a fascinating and poignant story. In the end, it is a hopeful story, a tale which demonstrates that change can happen. It is never too early or too late to be who you want to be. I think Lisa Moore has created inspiring characters to prove this point. I came to care about the characters and, yes, that is one sign of a good book.