The Weight of Him, by Ethel Rohan

the-weight-of-him-by-ethel-rohan
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Ethel Rohan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but now lives in San Francisco. She is an award-winning author of short stories, chapbooks, and memoirs. The Weight of Him is her first novel.

At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan has always turned to food for comfort. He’s obsessed with food:  not just the taste, but the textures and everything about it. Especially the way it makes his mind go quiet. But in the wake of his son Michael’s suicide, not even food will help him.

Embracing the concept of “go big or go home,” Billy decides to lose half his body weight to raise money for suicide prevention…and to save his family from falling apart. But Billy’s family just wants to go on, and Billy struggles alone. As word of Billy’s efforts spreads, he gains unexpected allies as he learns to deal with his emotions and his regrets while he strives to find meaning in Michael’s death.

I wanted to read this novel because it’s set in Ireland—which is at the top of my bucket list—and because it deals with suicide—because a couple of people close to me struggle with debilitating depression and suicide is a real problem that people don’t like to talk about. (Mental illness is real, people, and if we don’t talk about it, how can we help those who struggle with it? Depression is HARD.)

But this book…it’s powerful. Not only does it talk about suicide, but about eating disorders and disordered eating. With the stigma attached to those who are overweight. Billy has emotional wounds he’s never dealt with, and Michael’s death just ripped the scab off them. Now, when he’s actually trying to deal with and heal his issues, his family wants to keep pretending they don’t exist. This is a very moving book that deals with difficult subjects.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.)

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