After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.
He joins a gym.
Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.
As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.
Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.
Story: 5 out of 5!
Narration: 6 out of 5! 🙂
I went into this book with some concerns. For me personally, weight is an ongoing concern. I was able to lose 100 pounds over two years and would like to lose more, so I am well-familiar with the difficulties and stigmas involved in being obese and the effort required to lose weight. As a genre, m/m romance tends to focus on guys who are all fit and buff as hell (probably like mainstream romance, I would imagine). Overweight characters are frequently viewed in less-than-charitable light, and I was concerned this would be a “rejected, ugly guy loses weight and is suddenly gorgeous and desirable” story.
I was very, very wrong, I am delighted to report! This book was touching, and resonated so much for me. Henry is a guy with low self-esteem who creates a wall around himself with self-deprecating humor and social isolation. Over the course of the book he starts to work through his esteem issues (though thankfully never losing his sense of humor). And the key word here is “start” – I really like that the story shows that there is no magic wand to weight loss. It’s not giving anything away that by the end of the book Henry isn’t a super-slim fitness god. He is still working on losing weight, and knows it’s an extended process.
The story is told from Henry’s point of view, so while we know what’s going on in his head, we know less about Reed. Even so, he comes across as a sweet, caring guy who is everything that Henry needs. Henry’s trepidation toward Reed is both painful and understandable, and I found how this was addressed to be quite powerful. I really loved these guys, and by the end of the book, I was sobbing (happily).
Then there’s the narration. I have heard and enjoyed Leslie’s work before on Lord Mouse, where he was excellent. In The Weight of It All, though, he surpasses that. As good as the story was he made it better by not only providing clear and consistent voices for each character, but also consistent intonation and speech patterns. The tremulous emotion that Leslie’s voice carries as Henry agonizes over his life is heartbreaking; the elation in Henry’s successes is thrilling and contagious. The bottom line is that the narration takes a great book and makes it spectacular. I would wholeheartedly recommend the audiobook version of this book specifically because it’s just so darned good!