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The Weight of This World

Review

The Weight of This World

THE WEIGHT OF THIS WORLD is one of the most realistic tales that you are likely to encounter this year. Those who read WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO, David Joy’s debut novel, would expect nothing less. His second book equals and surpasses the expectations of that unforgettable work, presenting a dark, mesmerizing and addictive story that is akin to a waking nightmare.

Thad Broom and Aiden McCall are lifelong friends, as close as brothers should be. It was Thad who stood up for Aiden and insisted that he come into his home after a murder-suicide left Aiden parentless. April, Thad’s mother, has had a life of tragedy that is slowly revealed over the course of the book. When we meet Thad and Aiden, they are in their early 20s, with Thad just a couple of months back in the world after a traumatic tour of duty in Afghanistan. April is just past the cusp of 40. All three are looking to leave the impoverished area of western North Carolina where they reside. April is hoping for better things in a more cosmopolitan area such as Atlanta, while Thad and Aiden are aiming to raise enough money to move to Asheville and begin their lives over. However, the only growth industry around them is the drug trade, and it is hard to gather a grubstake when most of your earned money vanishes in a cloud of addictive smoke.

"The story is what brings you to THE WEIGHT OF THIS WORLD, but you will want to stay (and keep reading non-stop) because of Joy’s exquisite prose, particularly his rough-hewn dialogue, which is as authentic as it can possibly get."

Things change dramatically for everyone when Thad and Aiden’s drug dealer accidentally kills himself, leaving the two young men with a motherlode of drugs and cash. The reader can see and sense the tragedy barreling down upon Thad and Aiden --- and, to some degree, upon April as well --- with the instrumentality of their potential destruction being that which they perceive to be their salvation. Their lives are train wrecks, but Joy --- how do I describe this adequately? --- manages to wring sympathy out of the reader for them, even as they make bad, even awful choices.

The story is what brings you to THE WEIGHT OF THIS WORLD, but you will want to stay (and keep reading non-stop) because of Joy’s exquisite prose, particularly his rough-hewn dialogue, which is as authentic as it can possibly get. It’s something that you will focus on, even as Thad and Aiden go from bad to much, much worse in their efforts to convert their sudden bloody windfall into a ticket out of the rural Dodge into which they have been born.

I guarantee that if you live within a couple of hours of the Appalachian region, you know the people who populate this novel, possibly on a first-name basis. Joy, who lives among them and drops hints here and there that he indeed might be one of them, never makes excuses for his characters while infusing sorrow and sympathy for them on each and every page. If you are looking for something different to read that also happens to be starkly and beautifully written, you don’t have to look any further.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 10, 2017

The Weight of This World
by David Joy

  • Publication Date: March 7, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399173110
  • ISBN-13: 9780399173110