Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: She Aint Heavy

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the She Ain't Heavy blog tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book

Title: She Ain't Heavy
Author: Arnine Cumsky Weiss
Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers
Published: June 15, 2013
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the author in exchange
for an honest review
My Rating: 2 Stars

Just when counter clerk Teddy Warner is about to be evicted from her Scranton apartment, she bumps into beautiful, brilliant, blond Rachel – her estranged childhood friend whose mother forbid their friendship thinking Teddy was beneath them.

Teddy and Rachel reconnect over hot chocolate and under New Year’s Eve fireworks. Their discussion leads to an invitation. Soon, Teddy’s on her way to Philadelphia, where Rachel is a student, to share an apartment and begin an exciting new life in the City.

Teddy views Rachel as perfect. Rachel can’t bring herself to shatter the image by letting on that she is having an affair with a married man. Just when Teddy is starting to feel at home, Rachel insists on some privacy. Acting out her anger at being asked to stay away, Teddy indulges in a one-night stand.

When Teddy returns to their apartment the next morning, Rachel is being carried out on a stretcher – the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This unforeseen tragedy leaves Teddy alone in a strange city, with no money, no friends, and no connections.

As Teddy struggles to find her way, she meets a mentor at the same university Rachel previously attended who takes an interest in her, but with strings attached. She also develops a unique bond with the firefighter who rescued Rachel. And yet, Teddy remains committed to helping Rachel get back on her feet, at a time when no one else who supposedly loves her can accept her in this diminished way. Along the way, Teddy discovers her own strength in the roles of caretaker, lover, and friend.

Melissa's Musings:

This book sucks you in quickly. I was pulled in from the very first page. As I read, I kept telling myself "just one more chapter." I wanted to see where these characters would go and how much they would change.

That being said, while the writing pulled me in immediately, and the synopsis caught my attention, the story itself fell flat for me. When I first started reading I made a note to myself that the story seemed sort of frenzied, too fast. And I think this was due to the fact that all of the events in the timeline of this story happen really quickly. Teddy moves in with Rachel after a five minute coffee conversation after not having seen her since they were teenagers. And they sort of instantly fall back in to their friendship, with Rachel offering to help Teddy find a job at her lab in the university. That kind of helpfulness just didn't feel real to me. Yes, they might have been best friends a long time ago, but the kind of bonding and sharing that they were doing in the beginning of the book just didn't feel right after such a long time.

There are other relationships and events that happen quickly too. For example, Teddy's sleeping with Michael, and her meeting Billy, and Gerry Lynn offering her a place to stay. These felt like letdowns, because you're anticipating her having to struggle, because you get the impression that's what Teddy has always had to do, but then there's all these people offering to help her almost immediately, and it just didn't match with her character.

I honestly didn't care too much for Teddy's character at all. She didn't feel genuine to me, and some of her quirks were just annoying, like her blowing her bangs up into the air all the time. It was repeated too many times to be an interesting habit. I feel like I didn't get to know her deeply enough to truly feel for her.

Despite my lack of interest for Teddy as a main character, I really enjoyed most of the secondary characters. I liked Bill's calm, commanding presence, and his relationship with his son, and his receptiveness to Teddy. Gerry Lynn seemed sweet, and kind, and I liked her balancing presence in Teddy's life. Some of the characters I could do without, like Mrs. Cooper and Michael, although they do play important roles in the story.

One other thing that I've been pondering, as I read, and as I've been writing this review, is the title. I just don't understand how this title ties in to the significance of this story. Most of the time, I look for the way that a title ties in to the story, and in this case, I just couldn't see it.

While the writing pulled me in, and the synopsis was appealing, the story just didn't pan out for me in the end. There wasn't enough tension, and the resolution was lacking as a result. Since Teddy was hard to like, I had a hard time connecting with her. I can't wholeheartedly recommend the story since I was somewhat disappointed in it. But, I would say if you're looking for a quick read, and you like stories where characters try to change their lives, you should try this one.

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