Our pasts help to shape who we are and how we develop, but when your past is a heavy burden to bear, it can be difficult to function, as in The Weight of This World by David Joy.
Aiden McCall watched his father shoot his mother and then himself, thrusting a shocked Aiden into a group home at an early age, until he ran away and met Thad Broom. Thad lived with his mother April and grew up not knowing who his father is but he was able to find some semblance of order for his life when he was in Afghanistan with the army. Struggling to make ends meet in a down-turned economy, Thad and Aiden witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and they take the opportunity to take possession of money, drugs, and guns that would otherwise be looted or locked up by the police. What they do after they have these things determines the course the rest of their lives takes – either down a dark path or away from the problems plaguing their personal lives as well as their small mountain town.
Dark and unfortunately realistic, this well-crafted narrative was like a trainwreck that you can’t help but watch unfold. Despite the dramatic introduction of Aiden, it was difficult to care about these characters, particularly due to their drug use, until they were developed with more of their past laid out for reference to help explain their actions, which started to speak volumes for who they ultimately were, at which point I started to care a bit more about them. As the the characters realize that their chance at success is in leaving this place, it was frustrating to see them stick with the cyclical choices that keep them from progressing forward from their pasts.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.