I'm not sure why I grabbed this book off the new book shelf. I think I had heard about it or read about it but I couldn't tell you what I had heard or read. Glad I did read it. Up to this point, it's the best novel I've read in 2012 and maybe the best book.
The main character, Arthur Opp, is a former professor who has not left his house in a decade because he weighs in excess of 500 pounds. His family provides for his financial needs but has little do with him. Years before he had befriended a student of his, Charlene, a quiet nerdy girl some 15 years his junior who was taking Opp's course as her first foray into college.
After the class ends, Opp and Charlene continue to remain friends leading to accusations that their relationship is improper. Charlene, unaware of the situation, has left the area and continues to remain pen pals with Opp. Opp is fired and retreats to his house to live as a hermit.
Opp does not hear from Charlene in a while and gets a phone call from her requesting his help. It turns out the two have been lying to one another and keeping secrets over the years. Opp, fretful, hires a cleaning lady to try and at least make his house presentable. Opp befriends the housekeeper and helps her with her problems. Charlene, meanwhile, has had a son whose father vanished at a young age. Charlene has kept that information hidden from Opp as well as some other things.
A sad twist results in the son looking for his father and finding it is not who he always thought it was.
This is yet another one of those book reviews where I find it impossible to write without revealing the story. It was a really good story but oh so sad. It was 351 melancholy pages ending with one semi-hopeful page.
It's an unusual and interesting story. I enjoyed it a lot despite it being sad. Despite it being the best book I've read this year, it's still not quite in the two star class. But things are turning. I have two more book reviews to write to catch up and then I am in the middle of two solid two star books. Stay tuned.