I loved the premise of this book - coming of age story of a musician finding his way in Portland with themes of racial identity and faith. Unfortunately, this one just didn't fully come together for me. Still, I'll look for more from this author in the future.
Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
Although I think Jeff Boyd has talent and potential as a writer, I think his debut novel, The Weight, falls short on several levels. The story takes a long time to say nothing much of import. While it touches on several themes which could have been explored further, with more insight, it simply didn’t. The main protagonist is a young black man living in Portland, Oregon, whom doesn’t evolve in any way. He’s stagnated, believing himself to be one of the only black people living in the community. While he seemingly has great friends who truly love and support him, mostly his white bandmates and a few of their girlfriends, he’s not satisfied with his life and does little to change it.
After befriending a young, black male being raised by white parents, he lost the boy’s parents’ trust by making a seemingly inappropriate comment. Although he truly enjoyed spending time with the boy, he did nothing to remedy the situation. His actions regarding his friends and girlfriends are nothing to be proud about, being deceitful, injurious, and petty. He hasn’t spoken to his religious parents for a long time, because he’s too much of a coward to admit to them that he no longer has a strong belief in God.
It’s interesting that near the end of the book, the one woman whom he pines over for the book’s entirety finally agrees to a relationship with him only after learning he isn’t the perfect, “goody-two-shoes” she’d thought him to be. Nowhere in the novel did I ever get the impression that he was anything close to perfect or a “goody-two-shoes.” In fact, I only saw him as an unmotivated, drifting, deceitful, alcoholic/drug addict who doesn’t take too much responsibility for his actions.
I want to thank Jeff Boyd, his publisher Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for providing me an advanced digital copy of The Weight to read and allowing me to provide this voluntary review. Although I was disappointed in this book, I’m interested to see what Mr. Boyd’s next writing endeavor produces.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ebook of this novel for review.
So maybe I am just not the right age audience for this book or maybe I wasn't viewing it from the right "coming of age" angle. I did understand Julian being the only 20-something black man living in the majority white area of Portland, Oregon. I picked up on the microaggressions he was going through and the stress and anxiety he has in his life.
For me a "coming of age" novel means an epiphany happens or decisions are made that will help to change the life of the character. This never happened with Julian. He continued to meander through life as the only black man in an all white band, pined for women in the last chapters instead of growing up or settling down, and just kept getting high. He never moved forward or moved up/on. He stayed stagnate it felt like. And I was pushing for Julian to succeed, but he just stayed put.
This is a coming-of-age novel about a young, Black man in Portland. I'm not exactly the target demographic, but I'm always looking to expand my horizons.
Julian is trying to find his way in a new city that predominately white. This story follows him as he struggles to discover who he is post=divorce and starting to date again. His friends aren't great influences, and Julian struggles with right and wrong and good and evil.
This story brought back memories of being a young 20=something, trying to figure out where my life was going and who I really was.
This was an enjoyable book about a black man in the very white world of Portland. It was a fascinating perspective but it felt very much like a debut novel. It could have used a little more editing to make it a better more cohesive novel.
This debut novel is set in Portland, Oregon. The book is a story about a 20 something year old man trying to figure out his life as a musician. The premise is very compelling and it’s a coming of age story that touches on real life topics. The writing was great. Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an ARC.
I went into this coming-of-age story with high hopes but I felt like nothing happened. I wanted more from the book - more about Julian's evangelical upbringing, more about his marriage and divorce at a young age and more about what he wanted out of life. Maybe the point was that he remained adrift but it felt unsatisfying.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the copy to review.
This was a really good story. I couldn't put it down. I just wanted to know more. I hope this book does well because it deserves it.
I was pretty hooked while reading The Weight, and I sat with it awhile before reviewing because it took some time to process.
I appreciated the fact that MC, Julian was still figuring himself out in his mid-twenties. That’s real life. I thought the conversation around Julian being a Black man, surrounded by whiteness and the racism he encountered every day even in a considerably liberal Portland.
I just wish we had a little bit more resolve..
Thanks to #netgalley, the publisher and Jeff Boyd for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
I saw some trusted reviewers like this one, so I gave it a chance. It was too dense for me and I really struggled to get traction or focus.
This is a highly readable book, but there were things that exasperated me on almost every page. Julian is a young black musician trying to make his way in the mostly-white city of Portland, Oregon. But there were two themes with which the author more or less hammered the reader: Julian's financial difficulties and his isolation from other people of color. Like I say, on nearly every page.
And yet, he was also constantly spending his seemingly limited money on expensive takeout and recreational drugs, so . . . No correlation with his poverty? Hmmm.
And yeah, Portland isn't very diverse, but I've lived here about half my life. As I read this book, I started to comb through my memories and pay close attention to my present life. I've never held a job or lived in a building in Portland that wasn't at least 10% minority-occupied. During this period, as I walked my dog, did my shopping, kept my appointments, I never entered a street, park or business without finding a healthy smattering (again, 1 or 2 out of 10) of people of color. Since Portland is 74% white and 6% black (compared with 13% black in the U.S. overall), it's pretty much impossible to never see a black person.
I get that we're talking about Julian's perceptions of his life here, but it might have served Boyd better if he'd ditched the seriously repetitive expression of these themes. Just from an esthetic standpoint.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for an advance readers copy
The Weight is a story about a a twenty something year old man trying to figure life out as a musician in the Pacific northwest. After divorcing his college sweat heart, he left his life, family, and religion behind it Chicago to try his luck as a drummer out in Portland, Oregon. However, things aren't going great. He has a job he hates that doesn't even pay the bills. The girl he has been hooking up with gets engaged. And most of all, he feels alone as a Black man in a racial undiversified place.
This story was a frustrating read for me. I struggled with the character's choices. There were many opportunities for him to improve his situation in a way that he voiced he wanted, but then he'd continue to make choices that weren't consistent with that. His choices with alcohol, drugs, relationships, interactions with others.... I kept waiting for a change and it never quite happened. I am sure there are many people who could find a needed voice within this read, but admit that I was not that reader.
Thank you to NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jeff Boyd's debut, "The Weight," is a contemporary coming-of-age novel set in Portland, Oregon. Julian explores his life, and its limitations, as a 26-year-old, black, divorced man in a predominantly white city. Police interactions, and their neverending threat, heighten his encounters with his bandmates, who are unaware of their class, racial, and social privileges.
Estrangement from his family of origin and questioning his religion leaves Julian at a crossroads juxtaposing the isolation of his Christian, homeschooled youth with the constant threat to his person, musical pursuits, and faith
Thank you to the author, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the digital ARC!
I struggled connecting with the characters of "The Weight" by Jeff Boyd, yet, appreciated the depiction of this bohemian lifestyle, the struggles of race and relationships. Thank you NetGalley, the author and publisher for the review copy. All opinions are my own.
The Weight is a powerful coming-of-age novel about a twenty-something Black musician living in predominantly white Portland, Oregon, playing in a rock band on the verge of success while struggling with racism, romance, and the legacy of his strict religious upbringing.
The premise of this book is very compelling. Julian, apart from his teenage adopted neighbor, is the only black man in his essentially white neighborhood. He has moved to Portland to get a fresh start away from his parents.
However, I have mixed feelings about this book. I really want to like it, but I never got into Julian's life. He wants to get out of the bad patterns, but he never consciously tries to get out of it. He keeps making bad choices and decisions. Having said that, I really liked the open ending of the book where there was a lot of hope to reclaim his life again.
Thank you, Simon and Schuster, for the free copy of this book.
CW: Alcohol and substance use.
Boyd has written an insightful coming of age novel about Julian, a mid-twenties black musician living in Portland, OR, where he is usually the only minority in the room. As he struggles to pay bills and find his way to adulthood, he wrestles with his conservative, midwestern, Christian upbringing. I found myself engrossed and wanting to know how he would resolve his questions about love, faith, and community.
In his first novel, 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗪𝗘𝗜𝗚𝗛𝗧, author Jeff Boyd created a main character that I won’t soon forget. Julian Strickland is a mid-twenties Black man living in the very white city of Portland. He’s the drummer in a struggling band and a young man who’s more than a little lost. He grew up in a very religious Chicago family, married young and was divorced by the age of 24. That’s when he decided to make a fresh start in Oregon. But, letting go of a past is complicated, the pull can be great. At the same time, Julian’s new life is full of so much he’d never thought to experience, so much he’s reveling in.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 is a rich coming-of-age story written with both authority and vulnerability. From the author’s notes it’s clear some of Julian’s story echoes his own life. I loved that the book had a little bit of everything in it: friendship, love, heartache, adventure, angst, and a great setting. The arch of the story was a little uneven, and at times had too many disparate elements. It could have been a little more tightly edited. That being said, other parts were brilliant. There was a scene where Julian and a white bandmate ran out of gas late at night. A little drunk and a little high, Julian’s terror was palpable when his friend called the cops for help. Scenes like that shone in this debut and make me eager to read whatever Boyd writes next. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to @simonandschuster for an ARC of #TheWeight.
Really enjoyed the perspective of a black man surrounded by whiteness, but it felt a little repetitive at times and I felt like the author could have done so much more. I really enjoyed the beginning just wanted more growth/experiences from Julian! I’ll read what comes next!
This book is all character and minimal plot. Like, there is a plot there, it's just not really an over-arching, cohesive thing. It's really just a montage of Julian, our main character, living his life and dealing with things like jobs, racism, his band, Christian (or kinda ex-Christian) guilt, and girls. The writing was enjoyable, and it really had me wanting to keep reading. Short chapters, short book overall. Just, not a ton going on.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the e-ARC.
The Weight was phenomenally written and I was pulled into the story from page 1. I could not put this book down! This book touches on a lot of really important, real life topics and I enjoyed reading this authors perspective! I can’t wait to read more from this author!