Wednesday, June 28, 2017

REVIEW: The Weight of Life by Whitney Barbetti


Shel: Y'all let me be real with you for a minute or two. I have THINGS TO SAY about The Weight of Life but I'm so afraid of spoiling it that I don't think I can say them and that sucks--not because I'm all the profound and you'll miss out on that insight or anything but it's hard to express some things without being able to explicitly say certain plot points. Have patience with me; I'm gonna do my best. Court: She did struggle! She got finished before me, and so shared this angsty time with me. And the struggle was real. 

Shel: First, let me start with what a pleasant surprise it was to have a book focused on Mila. Ever since we met her in Into The Tomorrows I've been curious about her and what she thought about Trista and Colin and her part in that triangle; that wasn't the focus of this novel but those questions were definitely answered. The focus here is what a breath of life she really is. Mila has lost someone she loved and she also knows that there's a potential for her to lose her brother in the same way and yet she's characterized as someone who conveys a joie de vivre in almost every step. What's interesting, as I reflect on my initial perceptions, is that the very first scene Barbetti gave me ideas about Mila that were so much sadder and darker than I saw her as for the majority of the novel. Sure, there were times when she had hard days but she really seemed the personification of someone who wanted to live and love and squeeze the most out of every moment. She never seemed to dwell on things too long without recognizing what she could and could not control and moved on from there. Ames was a perfect foil for her. His demeanor, initially, was colder and more distant and suspect. But, just as I pegged Mila wrong at the beginning, I also pegged him wrong too. He turned out to be a really really wonderful and warm guy. Ames was so giving and self-sacrificing, maybe to a fault. Court: I could tell from the first few pages that there would be an even deeper layer to the characters. They meet in an unlikely way, but I liked how the story took off from there. They literally fell into each others lives, and I enjoyed how Mila's observations of Ames and the setting were detailed. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to like it right at first but as the pages went on and we got into the thick of it and got to know our characters having Barbetti's writing there to keep us hanging on and flipping the pages.

Shel: Other things I enjoyed about The Weight of Life were some of the conversations that Mila and Ames and Lotte and Asher and Sam had about love and loss and grief. I appreciated all of their perspectives and that they each seemed to know when to be gentle and when to kick ass. I also loved the overall tone of this novel. Rather than create a ton of angsty moments, Barbetti created scenes and a plot that seemed to fit what these characters needed perfectly, if that makes sense? It was softer and the conflict was proportionate to what was going on with these characters. And not to be overlooked---the whole British-ness of this book. Court and I are a sucker for Brit-isms and Sam, his family, and Lotte and Ames definitely gave us those and made me want to jump on a plane to London asap. Court: WE ARE! I too appreciated this about the novel, and that it begins with her looking over the Thames was especially iconic to me. It really brought the setting into the story and we all know how I like that. And...while sometimes I've shied away from books about these very subjects...I'm opening myself up more to how they can help me in my own journey and am finally in a place where I can appreciate them again and other people (including the author and characters as two separate entities is important here, I think) help me do it. So...Thanks for that, Whitney (And Mila and Ames). Because a book like this might be able to heal your heart a little bit too, reader...pick it up!

Shel: I really like that Whitney Barbetti created two characters, Mila and Ames, who could absolutely respect where the other one was coming from. I liked everything about their romance--from their first meeting to their non-dates--and how good they were for each other and seeing that Lotte will have a book in October makes me really excited to visit all of these characters again. Court: Cliche to say "What she said?" If so, I am and I accept it. But...yeah, we've come to know that Whitney Barbetti will inevitably find a way to tug our heart strings a bit...and make us enjoy every second. 


“Don’t let go.” Those were my first words to him, as I hung over the side of a London bridge. The words I would soon say again, in a moment that didn’t involve bridges, but something much more fragile: my heart.

He held onto me for three weeks, in a time when I needed to be held. Needed to connect to someone who understood how loss tunneled unrepentantly through the fabric of your soul.

Although he said he'd stay, we both knew he wouldn't. I had already survived one loss—I didn't know if I'd survive another. 


She spun into my life like a tornado of smiles and chatter and everything else I'd long avoided, with a persistence that I admired, albeit begrudgingly. She broke down each neat wall I’d constructed without even trying. Her presence alone caused me to remember what it felt like to smile, to look forward to what the day would bring.

But it was only supposed to last three weeks.

“Don’t let go,” she’d pleaded.

I’d promised her I wouldn’t—but I would. I didn't have a choice.

I like nachos and champagne and clean sheets. I spend far too much time at Starbucks. I wrote a couple books

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