—Robert Olen Butler, author of Perfume River
"Ethel Rohan is a writer of great courage and emotional intelligence. She can also tell a damn good story. The Weight of Him is about loss and about life. It is involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful."
—Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me
"Ethel Rohan shows herself to be one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the 'ordinary' and show just how extraordinary it really is. The Weight of Him is a brave and moving book."
—John Banville, Man Booker prize winning author of The Sea
"How can a story about death be so life affirming? Ethel Rohan's compassionate debut novel is sad, heartbreaking even, but also uplifting, a celebration of the determination to keep on trying."
—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
"The Weight of Him conjures all the grief and regret of a family who has suffered an insurmountable loss. Out of this burning sorrow rises Billy Brennan, a father who attempts the seemingly impossible – to change the world. Ethel Rohan captures a blend of humor and tragedy that is entirely true to family, hometown, and our own private struggles. Poignant and inspiring. "
—Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child
“I read enthralled by the beautifully captured protagonist, Billy Brennan, who tries to make sense of his son's death by losing half of his body weight. It's a story of grief, to be sure, and overwhelming appetites, but it's also a lovely meditation on fatherhood, and hope.”
—Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy
"Ethel Rohan is that rarest of writers, blessed with the x-ray vision to see not only past the skin, but past even the bone and into the marrow. In the strands of her debut novel's DNA, lab analysis might turn up traces of Alice McDermott, Alice Munro, Tom Perrotta, and Colum McCann. But the genome of The Weight of Him is entirely, thrillingly Rohan's own. Read this book!"
—Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West
“Rohan’s tender, generous and inspiring debut novel The Weight of Him deserves our full appreciation and absorption.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“First-time novelist Rohan shows impressive acuity in portraying the many facets of Billy’s and his family’s grief.” —Booklist
“This life-affirming view of grief is also an invitation, in spirit, to join in Billy’s redemptive quest toward carrying on with life.
An inspiring tale.”—Library Journal
“In heart-rending passages, Ethel Rohan captures Big Billy Brennan’s grief and the courage it takes to change.” —BBC Culture’s Ten Books You Should Read
Most Anticipated Lists: —The Millions, The Irish Times
& The Irish Independent
14 up & Coming Female Authors to Read This Year —Bustle
“Offers a window into a world most readers will never know.”
—Nota Bene Pick, World Literature Today
“A thing of beauty.” —Irish American News
“Fantastic, painstakingly beautiful debut novel.”—RT Book Reviews
At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. Food makes everything better. Until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael ends his life.
Determined to honor Michael’s memory, Billy undertakes a public weight-loss campaign to raise money for charity—his first step in an ambitious plan to bring himself, his family, and everyone in despair through their pain. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls those close to him who simply want to try to go on, quietly, privately.
Despite Billy's detractors and his demons, he is determined to persist and to reignite hearts, his own most of all. But it’s only if he can confront the truth of the brokenness within and around him that he and others will be able to realize the recovery they need.
Told against the picturesque yet haunting backdrop of contemporary, rural Ireland, THE WEIGHT OF HIM is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.