The Weight of Loss
•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.
•Billy hopes to find peace through his weightloss and improved wellbeing endeavours and wishes his family can find hope and joy too.
•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 my father passed away. Anyone looking from outside could find it strange but in reality it's these moments that keep us going.
•A touching, bittersweet and uplifting tale.
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.