Review: Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner

Title: Heather, the Totality
Author: Matthew Weiner
Pages: 144
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Free ARC from Little, Brown and Company

Rating: 3.5 stars

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Review: To begin with, this book is entirely too short to be considered a novel, and too long to be a short story, so…a novella it is. And to summarize, well, the title makes it kind of obvious. It’s about Heather. From the early pre-Heather days in her parent’s relationship to the day when, as a teenager, her life sits on a dangerous precipice, unbeknownst to her.

At first, it seems to be a character study of Heather, and it definitely is that. It isn’t especially dramatic, no real deep dive emotionally, and as fiction goes, not a lot happens. Two people become a couple. Then they have a child and she is their everything. The child grows and connects and changes and learns and grows and changes more. Her relationship with each parent develops differently as she becomes more and more herself. As she moves into adolescence, her close relationship with her mother dissolves while she grows closer to her father, who becomes aware of how grown up she is becoming, and he knows that he is not the only man who is noticing. So, he pays attention. He notices when someone undesirable seems to be paying too much attention to her movements, and knowing things about how men can be, he worries for her safety. He watches and protects, while Heather unknowingly flirts with danger. Good Dad. Typical teenage daughter.

So, like I said, not much happens. Or, at least, I can see how other people would see it that way. Just a different version of a story so many of us have already lived, right? But to me, that’s what’s interesting. It’s a reflection on the repetiveness and ordinariness of life, how we change as people, as a couple, as a parent, as a child, as a family; how what we think we know and understand about each other can be true but temporary or an image constructed for us by those we love; how we can’t force our children to be what we want them to be. It’s a reminder of how none of us has all the information in any given situation, how our perception of a situation or person is influenced by our experiences (or lack thereof), that people can and do change. So yeah, it’s a character study and not much happens. But then again, everything happens.

When I started this book, I didn’t have any real expectations. At the end of it, I had to think on it awhile to determine what, if anything, I took away from it. Because it wasn’t entertaining, there were no thrills, no tears. But since I didn’t hate it (I quite liked it!), there had to be a reason. I’ve done my best to tease out those reasons here. It was thoughtful and succinct and worth a read. And that’s all I have to say about that. 😉

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