Heavyweight, M.B. Mulhall
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA, Bullying, Contemporary, Eating Disorder, Psychological, Sports
Secrets. Their weight can be crushing, but their release can change everything—and not necessarily for the better. Ian is no stranger to secrets. Being a gay teen in a backwater southern town, Ian must keep his orientation under wraps, especially since he spends a lot of time with his hands all over members of the same sex, pinning their sweaty, hard bodies to the wrestling mat.
When he’s trying not to stare at teammates in the locker room, he’s busy hiding another secret—that he starves himself so he doesn’t get bumped to the next weight class.
Enter Julian Yang, an Adonis with mesmerizing looks and punk rocker style. Befriending the flirtatious artist not only raises suspicion among his classmates, but leaves Ian terrified he’ll give in to the desires he’s fought to ignore.
As secrets come to light, Ian’s world crumbles. Disowned, de-friended, and deserted by nearly everyone, Ian’s one-way ticket out of town is revoked, leaving him trapped in a world he hates—and one that hates him back.
This was my first book where the MC had an eating disorder. Actually, I can’t name another m/m (certainly not m/m YA) novel with an eating disorder in it. So when I found this book on the coming soon page on the publisher’s site, I was excited, to say the least. The way the author wrote Ian, and his issues with food, felt very real to me.
I will admit, I wasn’t sure about Ian in the very beginning. The way he used girls was kind of cruel, but I was able to look over that when we got more into the character that he was. From the very first chapter Ian’s issues were spilling out. For example, hiding the fact he was gay, the issues with his family, and even the eating disorder. His family life in the book was not what one would call a good one. His father was the epitome of a bad parent and his mother wasn’t the greatest either. I will admit, she cared in her own way, but she should have been putting her son first. And then the way she handled his not eating, it just didn’t make me feel like giving her a mother of the year award. I understand fear, but for me she wasn’t a very likable character.
Ian’s relationship with his best friend Clay didn’t leave me feeling overly happy either. I know, as a teenager myself, we can forget to think before we speak, etc… But I would never do what Clay did the day they met Julian and Mai-Li. It made me angry for some reason. He was supposed to be his friend, yet I couldn’t understand why. If that was how he treated Ian most of the time, I would have told him to find a better friend. Then there was an angry outburst later in the book that left me even more baffled over their friendship.
Even with those things, I loved this book. I found myself desperate to see Ian get help and find some level of happiness. And, for me, that was his relationship with Julian and Mai-Li, and even Aunt Jun. They were so supportive of him and they welcomed him into the family like they had known him forever. Then Julian, with his understanding nature, he never really pushed too hard in my opinion -even when Ian might have looked like he was stringing him along. He was there and supportive and he never gave me the impression that he didn’t really care. His support and strength really endeared him to me and I was absolutely in love with him. Also, the relationship between the boys was perfect. It didn’t take over the whole story, but it was definitely there. Because it felt natural, I was able to root for them before they actually became a couple.
Bullying was another serious issue handled in the book. I did have a small niggle about the principal and the way he handled things, but I could see where the author was coming from with that. She wanted to show (I would guess) what the less accepting schools are like. But she did have a couple of good teachers thrown in, and in real life there are good and bad teachers. Some kids are just unluckier than most. I also understood the bullying by the other kids, Maggie especially. I thought her reactions were probably what a lot of powerful girls would do. But the way she ended up in the book made me actually start to like her, even if it was a little.
My feelings, overall, were a bit conflicted in places. But I loved this book, so I can’t rate it down too much. It had a story that is not told often enough with both good and bad characters. I could sympathise with Ian (which is a good thing) and I fell in love with more than just the relationship between him and Julian. I loved the emotions in this book, mostly Ian’s, but Julian’s too. His strength and ability to help Ian really endeared him to me. The ending was happy enough without being unrealistic. His issues were still there, but he was on the road to recovery. Definitely a 4.5 star book in my opinion and I hope this author decides to write another m/m novel.
This book was provided by Harmony Ink Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.