Weez released her debut novel on August 1, and I am so happy.
Her blog is delightful, the letters she sends me are such fun to read, and I love her quirky honesty and unexpected descriptions. So when she sent me an ARC to review, you can imagine my joy.
*pretends I actually read it before the release date*
I’ve read it now, anyway (: It was marvelous, I enjoyed every bit of it, and I can’t wait to tell you why.
But first, here’s a bit about the book:
“The trees are tall, and the giants are not actually taller than the trees. You told me that the giants aren’t real. I don’t know if they’re real. They look real, to me, but they also don’t seem real. You don’t see them, either.”
Peri, alone in her house, has spent a lot of time observing the silent, strangely sad giants that move just on the edge of her vision. They never speak. They never laugh. They are always alone. Drowning in her own loneliness, Peri doesn’t think much about where the giants came from, or what they might need from her.
When Peri’s best friend Wink starts seeing the giants too, though, they decide that they need to find out why the giants are so sad and alone. This sets them off on a quest that neither of them is quite prepared for, through the woods and up the mountain.
Magic, melancholy, and myth collide in their lives, showing them a world both worse and better than they ever knew.
Note: I can’t quite tell if the title has a comma in it or not. The inside of the book has one, but the cover doesn’t. Please forgive any inconsistencies in this post concerning commas.
what I loved
The better question is “what didn’t I love?” (the answer: not much. see below), but I’ll do my best to figure out why it is that I enjoyed reading TLHT so much.
✨ THE AESTHETIC. I absolutely loved Weez’s simple but perfect descriptions and rich, whimsical world. The setting reminded me of Onward and The BFG and Pete’s Dragon. I love all three of those movies, but I think I might love this book more.
(Oh yes, and it also weirdly reminded me of an old VeggieTales episode called “A Snoodle’s Tale.” Make of that what you will.)
✨ THE CHARACTERS. TLHT has three main characters and I adore them all. My very favorite is definitely the POV (point of view) character, Peri, but all three are so real and sweet.
- Despite the fact that Wink was the one with a big family, I related the most to Peri. She was going through a lot of tough things emotionally, but she was afraid to admit it and pretended she was okay. Then sometimes she’d realize she wasn’t and do something drastic to compensate. This reminded me a lot of myself. Weez did a really good job of creating a consistent character voice, too, and it was amazing to be immersed in Peri’s head for the entire story.
- Wink was a great character too. I appreciate how Weez gave all three characters internal struggles; some obvious, some not. Wink’s was less obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less important. She was brave, and loyal, and joyful, and I think I’d like to have her as a friend.
- Ull was… *thinks* I have no words for him. He was so unexpectedly himself and couldn’t possibly be anything else. I’m glad I got to meet him via the story, but I think I’d find myself at a loss for words if we actually met. Unless he wanted to talk about storytelling. I always have words to talk about that.
“In regards to the symphony of the forest… they did seem to have a new arrangement in which the tree frog section carried the melody more strongly.”
We decide to pretend that there was nothing odd about that sentence.
✨ THE WRITING STYLE. Weez’s style reminds me of mine when I am not worried about what other people will think and am just writing for myself. The fact that she published her book and that people are writing positive reviews of it and that I love it so much and didn’t see anything negative about it makes me hope that maybe someone might someday like to read my random writing too…
…but anyway, that’s not the point of this section. The point is that Weez is an incredible writer and you all should read her work (here’s a blog post to try if you don’t want to buy a book right now).
I can hear a warbler calling, somewhere in the distance. Those are the yellow birds, I remember — they have the sweetest, purest sound. They’re my favorite birds ever. They’re yellow, like the sun, like Wink’s favorite flip-flops, like my mother’s nicest shirt.
✨ THE MAGIC. I always like reading about different magic systems. It usually bothers me when they’re not consistent or not explained well. So, of course, I loved the magic in TLHT, despite the fact that it was never defined or explained and thus probably not very consistent.
I think I loved it because of its whimsy and unexpected beauty. And sometimes even its darkness and pain. (More on that later.) But best of all, it wasn’t merely a fun way to add fantastical elements to a story — it was a reminder that, really, magic isn’t so strange. Magic is all around us.
“I’m not from a magical world, I’m from a different world.”
One of my favorite things about fantasy — good fantasy — is that it reminds us about the magic of our own world. The wonder in everything. Weez did this so well, I’m getting soberly excited* just thinking about it.
“The world had so much magic I didn’t see. Then I did see it, and it was gone.”
Oh, but darling, it wasn’t. It isn’t. Just look a little closer. Look at the sun. Look at dandelions. Look at humanity. You’ll see.
*I don’t know the proper word for this emotion. It’s when you’re calm and maybe a little sad, but full of anticipation for something good that’s coming. And you’re remembering all the things you too often forget. It’s like sehnsucht, but adjectival. And a little more enthusiastic.
✨ THE FRIENDSHIP. Groups of quirky, fiercely loyal friends make me smile. Peri and Wink (and sometimes Ull) are a superb example. Sometimes they argue, sometimes they don’t understand each other, but they are always, always there. I want to see more books with devoted, angry, hugging, running-away-and-finding, changing-but-staying-together friend groups.
“The quiet,” she says. “You don’t get that every day.”
Maybe she doesn’t. I do. I hate it. I hate it as much as the fact that she doesn’t realize that I do.
things I didn’t like quite as much
✨ THE ENDING. It felt a little abrupt, and all the pieces fit in a way real life never seems to. Plus it’s something of a cliffhanger (Weez, you genius, you managed to write a cliffhanger where all the pieces fit). I really hope there’s a sequel someday.
✨ THE BACKSTORY (or lack thereof). I’ve seen some other people talk about this, and I have to agree, I would love to know more about Wink and Peri’s families, how they met, etc. However, I think there wasn’t a good place for it in this book (a few hints might have been nice, but a full-blown info dump is never a good idea), and I hope that there’s a prequel as well! Maybe a prequel short story showing their first meeting?
✨ THE GIANTS THEMSELVES. I’m sad that we didn’t get to know more about them. Another prequel idea is the story of the giants (are you taking notes, Weez?). And the descriptions we did get are a little confusing and far too short for me. I just… I want to know more. I want to be immersed in the world of TLHT.
✨ THE SHORT VERSION OF MY REVIEW is that The Lightest Heaviest Things is a gorgeous and delightful story about friendship, growing up, finding magic, and figuring out what you really want. It’s different than any other book I’ve read, and that’s a good thing.
✨ RECOMMENDATION: TLHT is, truly, for all ages. I think it would be middle-grade, if you wanted to categorize it, but it defies that sort of categorization. Have you ever read the Wingfeather Saga? What about The Penderwicks? TLHT is like those.
✨ Why am I using sparkles at the start of every section? Because apparently there is no pink-and-purple pine tree emoji, and sparkles were the next best thing. Would you prefer this: 🌲 (almost Christmas-y)? Or this: 🧟 (which maybe looks kind of like Ull, but not really, and in a really bad way)? Or even this: 🐸 (the connection to the book is virtually impossible to understand unless you’ve read it, and even then it’s a very weird emoji)?
Yeah, I think I’ll stick with the sparkles.
✨ READ MORE ABOUT TLHT:
- review by Becky @ Moth of the Day
- spotlight + playlist by Laura Marie
- review by Kenechi @Well… Go Read!
- review by jo @livsnjotare
- spotlight + interview w/ the author by Clara @ midnight mind
✨ REVIEW TLHT! If you read The Lightest Heaviest Things and you enjoy it, tell the world! Link to Weez’s blog if you review it on your blog. Or talk about it on Amazon or Goodreads. Or Instagram, I guess (though I don’t understand how you give a full book review there). Or Twitter. Or, you know what, you can shout about TLHT anywhere you like. I’d like that. I think Weez would too. (#TLHT is the official hashtag. I think.)
✨ THE END. I really wanted to have another sparkle-marked paragraph, but I didn’t know what it would be about, so I did this. Have a beautiful day, and don’t forget to read the treasure that is TLHT.
Go bravely, my friends.
P.S. Have you read TLHT? If so, do you have any recommendations of similar books for me? If not, do you want to now? Tell me in the comments!