The Weight of This World by David Joy

The Weight of This World

David Joy

"A fearless writer, Joy is willing to go to all the dark places, but his voice and his heart serve as such strong beacons that we’ll follow him and take our chances." -- Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me

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Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut, Where All Light Tends to Go, was hailed as “a savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature” (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina with a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it.

Advance Galley Reviews

This is a very dark and depressing book. You try to find some light but I couldn't. 2/5

A good book with excellent plot line and beautiful characters.

The story is very dark about dysfunctional characters and their drug lifestyle. I find the storyline very interesting as it's something I don't usually read, but now I plan on reading the rest of David Joy's books.

The author has written a literary fiction about two people with different and difficult past fighting their demons on a meth fueled journey ..... A not to bad book ...

This book shows the darker side of human existence. It connects the struggles and hardships that are sometimes faced within our world. I thought it was a great read and an eye-opening experience. 4 stars!

This is a tough book. There is a lot of darkness, hardship, and desperation with little to no light or positivity to offset it. I found it well written and there was truth to the oppression and darkness found in this story, but it was hard to live in the place with no hope that this story takes you. To tell the truth, I'm not sure how I feel about the book overall. It tackles hard topics-ptsd, rape, abuse, drugs, murder, betrayal-but it brings no hope to how things will turn out. I wanted to root for the characters to make the right decisions, for them to make things turn around for themselves, but it was clear that was not the way this story worked. This is not a story for those with triggers of any sort, because every trigger is there, and I don't know who I would recommend it to because so many want happy endings, and there are none here. But I'm not sorry I read this, and I will be thinking about it & what it has shown me for a while. So if someone is looking for a challenge to happily ever after and are ready to take on a hard bleak look at the lives we all try to ignore and deny are out there, give this book a shot. I don't know that you'll like it, but you won't walk away unchanged or unaffected.

"The Weight of This World" by David Joy Follows a couple of boys in Little Canada. Thad and Aiden are what society might call "white trash." Aiden's father killed his mother when Aiden was young in a murder-suicide. Thad is the product of rape leaving his mother to raise him, yet never love or care for him. Both boys grow up motherless in a trailer on a mountain taking more drugs than one might consider humanly possible. This novel brings to light what is probably happening in all those downtrodden homes you pass and think little of. One might believe there is a stretch in the likely hood of this tale being possible, but other than the large amount of dying in the end, yeah, it is. This book is well written and an eye opener for the sheltered. It is a blending combination of action and contemplation. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from

I can appreciate the author's attempt at speaking about the darker side of human existence, but this book was just too depressing for me. I think if you are going to write about such sad topics, then you need to at least move the story along a bit faster. I just couldn't get into this book, and I only made it through the first 100 pages.

I'm not sure where to place this but it was still enjoyable because of the author's fine writing. This is somewhere between literary fiction and crime thriller. It is not an easy read because of the violence and sex in the book.

The Weight of This World is a beautifully written piece of literary fiction. You had no choice but to pull for Thad and Aiden to overcome their obstacles and get out of their mountain town and living in poverty and in a drug induced haze. Yet, at the same time, you wanted to kick them. A well done novel that I will definitely be recommending.

The Weight of the World by David Joy was an accurate description of small town life in the North Carolina mountains with characters that have what you call a hard-knock life. Both Aiden McCall and Thad Broom have had difficult upbringings and became thick-as-thieves because of it. The journey they take in this novel will test the boundaries of their friendship and the relationship with Thad's mother April. This is not an uplifting, happy tale but will keep you turning the pages to find out what will happen next.

It's safe to say that grit lit, if that's even a real genre, is not my type of genre. 3.5 stars for decent writing, rounded down for a plot and characters I did not appreciate at all. However, since reading this, I feel like I no longer need to watch Breaking Bad. I would never have finished this if I weren't reading an ARC. I have no personal experience with poverty and almost no experience with the South. I used to want to explore the Appalachians, but if there's that many snakes there, I may reconsider. It's hard for me to say how well the author captured the culture of the region--I'd say quite well, at least some of the culture. I've been in and out of homes of people in poverty for the last 11 years, and I could picture just what April's house and the trailer looked like. The writing felt a little rough to me, but overall the author did quite a good job of evoking the characters and setting. Somehow he made it almost understandable that April would be with Aiden (blergghhhhh), and while Thad and Aiden are both broken men, he manages to flesh them out as completely different and distinct individuals in how and why they responded to situations. I can't say too much about the darker aspects of the book, and it is mostly dark aspects, so I'll probably leave it here. It's just not my kind of subject matter.

David Joy's "The Weight of the World" is a dark but compelling look at how bleak life can become. In the midst of the horrors of witnessed murder, PTSD, generational poverty, meth use, and the trauma of rape, Aiden's loyalty to his friend Thad and Thad's mother April is tested daily. The choices these characters make are mostly bad ones and the challenges they face overwhelming. This is not a pleasant book. Still, David Joy manages to make the reader care about his characters and continue reading to discover what happens to them. "The Weight of the World" is a powerful read.

I thought from the description that I could get engaged in this novel, but it is so dark and unrelentingly grim that I couldn't get past the first 50 pages. It was death, abuse, PTSD, and a future without hope. It was too much of a downer for it to be enjoyable read.

David Joy's "The Weight of this World" will take you on a dark journey into the bonds of friendship and how deep loyalty truly lies. From the first page, we are drawn into Aiden's tragedies and follow his story of trying to survive in a world that's against him. The characters have many flaws including their decisions that drive Joy's powerful and raw story. Be prepared to be shocked in this dark tale where you will begin to question how heavy your world weighs.

I was absolutely right when I said this was going to be a book with bad decision after bad decision. This was a truly dark, gritty read, yet also completely riveting. It was kind of like watching a train wreck- you know you should look away, you want to look away, but you just can't. I ended up actually liking the characters, which was surprising because I spent the entire book angry about their stupid choices. Everything in this escalated really quickly, and it's kind of an uncomfortable book to read because it really hits you with a truth bomb, but everyone was so delightfully human.

I loved this book for the way it approaches so many hard truths and topics, but it is quite a dark read. This Southern Lit or Grit Lit novel tackles the harsh realities of children with violent backgrounds, rape, abuse, drugs, and soldiers returning from war with PTSD. In a beautifully written way David Joy presents the harsh reality of a poor economic region and what it can do to it's people. He also shows the joy and escape of being out in nature as an escape. To me this book was about escapes, how people try to escape their problems and even try to change their circumstances and what they know; through relationships, leaving to join the army, leaving war to return to an unwanted home, leaving bad circumstances in any way possible even drugs. This is a well written work with well developed characters and a highly descriptive quality that advances each theme in a way so that the reader can almost feel it, touch it, and experience it. It shows not all church people are good and not all poor underprivileged are bad. The story develops themes of loyalty, love, and finding family even when one has none. It is dark and real but it's depths help to understand people's choices and behavior in some of the worst circumstances imaginable. As a reader you feel for the characters anger, sympathy, frustration, hate, and want for revenge, but you are left uncomfortable knowing in reality there is no real escape for some things and very little comfort or help. There are absolutely trigger subjects in their book but if you can handle them I highly recommend it. Some things need to be faced in society and this story brings them to light. The Weight of This World by David Joy I hope can help more people to recognize these situations so that our society can learn from them and help creat real solutions to and for them.

Wow… Is our work so messed up? Really? Men killing their wives and the shoot themselves in front of their own children. People of the church raping young girls, sowing their seed and never give a penny of what becomes of them. Parents turning their backs on their children instead of supporting them. Mothers hating their children, reminders of their worst nightmares. Men hurting their women almost to death and pretending to be true and honest christians. Young men returning from war broken to pieces, physically and psychologically. Well, yes… This is our world and its weight is just tremendous… David Joy has done a marvelous work giving us the darkest part of our world. His writing is raw. A punch in our guts for all it’s worth. Trying to wake us from our dream. Trying to make us think we need to become humans again. His characters have been through a lot in their lives. A background ideal for justifying how they have become, how they came to do what they did. Not that they are really justified, but it is the excuse that is used. But not all of them. Some actions are unjustifiable. Some characters are just mean and evil and this is how our world is. All those things we hear in the news and those that we don’t, are actually there inside the book and in real life too. The case is that, even though there is no beauty, no repentance, no redemption, no forgiveness, the reader is hooked till the very end. There is no way to know how it ends, yet again, when the final page is read and finished, when there is nothing left to expect, the reader comes to realize that this would be the only ending possible.

Angry people making bad decision after bad decision. There were a lot of horrific events in this book, which should have elicited strong emotion (other than just shock), but unfortunately I didn't feel connected to anyone or anything in this story. We're TOLD how the characters feel about things, but we're not made to feel it. Maybe it was because there isn't a single likable character, not even in the anti-hero sense? I don't know.

Thank you to First To Read Books for allowing me to review this ARC. High on the mountain - lost to the world. In the back woods of North Carolina, people feel lost to the world. They fight the outside - they fight each other. Crime is a way of life. Two young boys are cast aside to make their own way - anyway they can. Through death, drugs and violence Aiden McCall and Thad Broom grow into violent men. The author David Joy put forth a story with a vividly aggressive plot line. This is a story in the reading world that takes place on the "other side of the tracks". It is an easy read that moves right along, however the verbiage, violence and sex will not be everyone's choice. David Joy is an author to watch, without a doubt.

This book is dark yet riveting. The narration provides a no-nosense view of the hardscrabble American live that has been so widely discussed and dissected lately. The plot moves along, but the emotion lurking beneath the surface is really what gives this novel a depth.

If you are looking for a lighthearted book, this is not the one. Nevertheless, it is a recommended book - the author gives us a glimpse into these characters lives that is so clear. On the surface these characters could seem like screw ups but knowing the circumstances and background - I just felt really sorry for them. The title of the book is absolutely fitting. As I said before, I would recommend this book, just with a disclaimer for those that cannot stomach graphic subject matter.

David Joy creates a descriptive and engaging reality in his novel "The Weight of This World". The writing is fluid and quick, yet also deep with meaning and emotion. It is introspective and violent, shocking and familiar. He describes his characters honestly and, deep down, lovingly, even if their author's love is the only real one they experience in their hard lives. As I read Joy's novel, I found it impossible to put down and even harder to stop thinking about Thad and Aiden once I finished. I realized that in spite of it all, everyone carries the weight of several worlds: the world you are born into and the world you make for yourself.

Not what I expected from this book. That's not bad, but I guess you have to be in the right mindset for this one. The book is dark, but has these themes that undercut it throughout about loyalty. It was an interesting book and I enjoyed it.

A dark and sad story that compels one to keep reading to see what happens. Graphic violence not for the faint of heart. The book didn't end the way I expected, but after much thought, I'm not sure it could have ended up any other way.

I received an ARC from FirstToRead for an unbiased review of THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD. It's particularly hard to explain the details of this book without spoilers, beyond the blurb already posted about it: "A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it." I don't entirely think I knew what I was getting myself into reading the book, which was well written but a little too graphic for me. I think in referring others to it, I will consider those who handle certain scenarios well, versus those who do not (for example, I'm not exactly rushing out to recommend this to any of my friends who've returned home from war and are dealing with PTSD). The development of the three main characters and the intensity of their bonds and loyalty, despite all the ways they continued to fail one another, were a true depiction of human spirit. How we can love someone so much that we never mean to fail them, yet we can never do fully right by them. I loved the epilogue but not the ending...if that makes sense (I'm afraid to say much for fear of spoilers). Part of me wanted so desperately for Aiden, Thad and April to all find their way away from Little Canada, alone or together, having beaten all their demons. Part of me, though, is realistic enough to know that is not how life works. I will absolutely be hunting for other books by David Joy having read this one. So glad I took the time and stuck out the scenes that were hard to stomach.


Wow! Where do I start? How do I tell you about this tragic and cautionary tale without spoilers? The two main characters, Aiden and Thad, are tragic, Southern Gothic protagonists. The trouble these two men, who are honestly boys who never grew up, get into is a train wreck (figuratively). This novel is not for the faint of heart. There is graphic violence, sex and meth abuse. Am I glad I read it? Unequivocally yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely yes, but with caveats to the faint of heart mentioned above. This is a book that stays with you and haunts you with the life and tragedy that befalls all of the characters in the book. Happy reading!!

Life is truly just a cycle of emotions, as The Weight of This World proves. This book was dark, and I've read plenty of novels that tend be on the darker side. It immediately starts with death, ends with death, and has death sprinkled throughout the middle. The characters felt real, the dialogue felt natural, and the situations that Thad and Aiden (mostly Thad) got themselves into almost felt like they were retellings of real life events. And as unlikeable as Thad was as a person, you almost feel bad for the guy... almost. In my opinion, the best books are those that make you physically feel things, whether that feeling is pure happiness, crushing sadness, or anything else in between. This book definitely made me go through a cycle of different emotions, and I am better for having read it.

Thank you to Penguin First to Read for an advance e-galley of this book. Bleak. Dark. Sad. But completely engaging from the first page. The characters in this book are all struggling to find their way out of the darkness of their own lives and through the writing you can feel, see, hear, smell and taste right along with them. Their struggles are both individual and collective. It is a story of poverty, addiction, guilt, anger and fear. It is also about friendship, loyalty and love. The circumstances the characters have endured over the years have left them with seemingly no hope of ever breaking the cycle and their addictions drive them to unimaginable acts. The bonds they share are tested to the extreme and the results of those tests are equally extreme. It's not a "feel good" book to say the least - but the quality of the writing is gripping and real and somehow keeps the reader wanting to follow the story to its conclusion. And it was a conclusion that stayed with me after the last page was turned.

This book was so dark and gloomy it seems contradictory to say how wonderful it was. However, it was very readable and really made you sympathize with these two young men whose lives are quickly going downhill. One doesn't care, the other wants something better but is afraid to go for it on his own. The style of writing leads you to feel, taste, smell the despair, drugs, violence. This book will not make you feel good but it will keep you reading.

Oh man, what a story! D. Joy did not 'tread lightly' here, but 'weighed in heavily'! He has written so that the reader can almost feel like they are right in the midst of this.....mess! The reader can almost feel it, smell it, hear is scary real! It's not a 'warm fuzzy' of a book, more like a 'punch in the gut'! For a writer to elicit that sort of almost visceral reaction, must say that he's done some good writing! I'll definitely be looking for more from this author....this being the 1st time I'd read any of his work. He has got to be happy with this book!! I did win an ARC in a First-To-Read giveaway program, in return for my own fair & honest review.

For such a dark book, I enjoyed it immensely. The writing was absolutely beautiful and it had that rare quality of feeling like a story that existed before it was written. It felt like it wasn't a story made, it was waiting to be told. When he was just 12, Aiden watched as his father killed his mother and then himself. He was put in a group home but soon runs away to a hunting camp he knows of in the woods. There he eventually runs into his friend Thad, who tells him he has a trailer he can live in with him. The trailer is on April's (Thad's mother) land and he is allowed to live there, mostly because Thad's mother doesn't want anything to do with him, she just wants him out of her way. The two of them grow up together, and come to rely solely on each other for everything. Theirs is a bond that transcends mere friendship, they are all they have. Thad is deployed to Afghanistan and Aiden stays behind. Aiden and Thad's mother April become lovers. Through Aiden, April finds the one thing she never had, a kind man. Aiden loves her, in his way, both of them getting exactly what they need from one another without any kind of expectations. Things change between Thad and Aiden when Thad returns from deployment in Afghanistan. Thad's experiences there snap something inside him. He's different. Both Thad and Aiden rely on drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of their hard lives, but Thad takes it to a whole new level. When things really begin to escalate we see the differences between Aiden and Thad. Aiden hopes to one day escape his lot in life, while Thad resigns himself to the life he hates. I wanted to blame him for thinking that way, but I couldn't. Aiden is afraid of becoming his father, and fights to rise above the kind of violence that creates more men like him, ones that grow up angry and alone and lost. Honestly, I just wanted to hug him. While reading this book, I kept comparing it to train wreck, not quality-wise, but because even as things spiraled more and more out of control, I just couldn't look away. I needed to keep on reading, but sometimes I just had to put the book down to take a break. It provoked the kind of emotions that left me feeling raw and exposed. There was such heart wrenching sadness in the hopelessness of their situation. It was an unflinching look into a way of life that is so easy to condemn, a life that revolves around drugs, alcohol, and (sometimes extreme) violence. I think it takes an exceptional writer to make a person understand and sympathize with such flawed characters. Their actions were rarely justifiable but were somehow often understandable. I thought it was superbly written. This is most definitely not a book I want to read again, I don't think my heart could take it. I closed the book looking around the room in my house and thinking of the countless people in my life that I know without a doubt love me, feeling very lucky.

At one point in David Joy’s novel Aiden McCall thinks, “Every year bled into the next, just on and on until the day he’d die, and maybe that was all there was to look forward to anymore. Maybe that’s all there is to this old life, just waiting around to die.” The Weight of This World is the story of three very battered individuals, living together in the North Carolina hills, bound by personal history and tragedy. Thad Broom and Aiden McCall were childhood friends. Thad and his mother April saved Aiden when he escaped from an orphanage and needed a home. Aiden was there for Thad when he returned from Afghanistan, emotionally scarred by what he’d seen and done. April, Thad’s mother, has her own tragic past and is haunted with the consequences. Fueled by their individual histories, drugs and alcohol, things go irretrievably awry when a drug deal ends unexpectedly and Thad and Aiden attempt to make good out of a windfall. It’s here where the reader begins to believe that yes, life is just waiting around to die, especially for these three. The Weight of This World is intense and brutal, sometimes painful to read, but also a testament to love and friendship at all costs.

The Weight of This World by David Joy is a gritty and somewhat dark novel about three people who are trying to escape their unhappy lives. In the poverty-stricken Appalachians, Thad Broom, his mom April Trantham and childhood friend Aiden McCall are attempting to change their lives. Thad is an Afghanistan veteran who is fed up with the snail’s pace of the VA and unable to forget what happened during his tour, he relies on alcohol and meth to keep his demons at bay. April is finally free of her abusive husband but she has been unable to move past the damage wrought by the circumstances of Thad’s conception or her parents’ and the townspeople’s reaction to her unwed pregnancy. Despite his own tragic past, Aiden is trying his best to live an honest life but the downturn in the economy leaves him struggling to find a job. He is also trying to keep Aiden from self-destructing after their drug dealer dies and they make the decision to claim his stash of drugs, cash and weapons. In an ever increasing downward spiral fueled by lack of sleep and too much alcohol and meth, Thad makes a terrible mistake that Aiden desperately tries to fix but can he save his friend from himself? While at one time Aiden had a loving family, Thad was never that lucky. April never made any secret that she loathed her son and with her blessing, her husband set him up in his own trailer on their property when he was a child. After Aiden runs away from foster care, Thad convinces April to make take the necessary steps for him to stay with them and the two boys are thick as thieves even after Thad joins the Army. Aiden remains living on the property and working in construction until the housing market crash puts him out of work. He is still managing to hold it together even though he is not exactly making an honest living. After he returns from Afghanistan, Thad refuses to get help for his PTSD and instead chooses to self-medicate with alcohol and meth. Following the death of her husband, April is making plans for her future that will impact both Thad and Aiden if they come to fruition. After the shocking death of their drug dealer, Aiden and Thad make a split second decision to steal his stash but things quickly go downhill when Thad invites a couple of girls to party with them. Unable to keep Thad under control, Aiden eventually carries through with their original plan to profit off their newfound windfall. However, nothing goes as planned for either men and their situation quickly goes from bad to worse. Will either of them find a way out from under the crushing weight of their bad choices and abject poverty? The Weight of This World is a harsh and violent novel that is a heartbreakingly realistic portrait of life in rural America. The characters are difficult to like (even though it is impossible not to feel sympathy for Aiden) and while they are trapped by their own poor choices, they are also victims of circumstances that are out of their control to some degree. David Bell is a gifted writer who exposes the darker side of life but in doing so, he educates readers about how difficult it is to make a living in economically depressed areas in the United States. A very worthwhile read that is quite thought-provoking and very poignant.

Thank you to Penguin First to Read for an advance e-galley of this book. This book is dark. Very dark. Not generally the type of novel I jump to, if ever, but I was pleasantly surprised by my feelings toward this book. I will say, I was committed to giving this book 5 stars until about I reached 60% into the book, when the stuff of nightmares set in and never wavered. Until a little over halfway, I was hooked on the lives of Thad and Aiden and April, each having suffered terribly from the crappy hand of life that they were dealt. Thad with a mother that never loved him and scarred by the war he fought in; Aiden, who witnessed his father shooting his mother and then himself when he was just a boy, and April, who bore a child from rape, and was beaten to a pulp by the man who promised to take care of her and her ill-gotten son. I felt their suffering, as they lived their despondent lives in a tiny North Carolina town in Appalachia. Goodness and hope never seemed to reach Little Canada, even for Aiden, who tried so hard to do the right thing. What surprised me was that I didn't judge Thad or Aiden for their drug and tobacco abuse. My eyes were opened to how low life can get, and how sometimes, you just have to do what you can to survive, even if that means surviving via an altered mindset due to narcotics and illegal substances. Whatever relieves the pain of reality and one's mind/thoughts for even just a minute. That, I can completely understand and sympathize with. We all know what it is to feel a pain you think will never end. I will say, there is a lot of violence and gruesome death in both humans and animals in very graphic detail. Really horrifying stuff that I was not prepared to read about at 10pm before falling asleep. This is what keeps me from giving this novel five stars, because I almost literally couldn't stomach the brutality. It was difficult to not replay the descriptive violence over and over in my head as I tried to sleep. However, overall, this is a very fast-paced read, and one that I enjoyed reading for the better majority of it. The author is poetic in his writing, David Joy has a beautiful handle of language that I'd definitely be willing to experience again in his existing and future novels.

This book very accurately depicts how The Weight of This World takes it's toll on the characters. Thad Broom has returned from war and had a tough childhood with his disconnected mother, April. Aiden McCall witnessed the death of his parents and was left to make his way through life with Thad. The book is extremely dark but very well written. While the three characters were not at all likeable or relatable, their actions as the story progressed seemed very plausible. This book would make for a good discussion of the effects of "nature vs. nurture."

On the plus side, the characters are not New Yorkers filled with angst. Instead, THE WEIGHT OF THIS WORLD delves into a different dysfunctional sphere, that of the Appalachians. The cast of characters fit the required stereotypes of hopeless losers, so much so that you feel as if they lack dimension. Thad Broom joins the army because that's what poor men in North Carolina's mountains do, in the eyes of those who don't actually know anyone who signed up. His pal Aiden, adrift in the world, joins him on a meth-fueled bender but you don't really gain any insight into why the men have turned to drugs. Granted, Thad has to take something to self-medicate because he was injured and the Veterans Administration does nothing to help the injured vets, so there's a "ripped from the headlines" excuse. What's left? The usual residue of domestic violence, rape and slut-shaming, that sort of thing. No depth, just reasons you'd find in reading scholarly studies into such matters. How much further can the dysfunction in this novel go? Aiden is having off with Thad's mother. We're deep in the mentally deranged woods here, but the author is painting a picture and it all fits, if only because intellectuals tell us that starting at Point A brings you to Point B. The action is profoundly violent, as one would expect in the world of drugs and drug selling and nothing-to-lose. This book is not for everyone, to be sure. And yet the prose is so pretty that you can't help but read, although not necessarily for the narrative. I skimmed a great deal, gliding over the surface of a story that did not quite pull me in because too much did not ring true. Events happened in a way that followed the formula, or maybe I'm just reading too much these days and I tend to analyze too much. In a way I enjoyed the book because the author writes so well, and then again I did not care for it much at all. I'm quite on the fence with this one, debating the worth of the words as opposed to the content.

"The Weight of This World" hits the ground running. Twelve year old Aiden hears 'I love you' for the first time from his father moments before he is orphaned, all this on the first page. After a short stint in the foster care system, Aiden comes to live with his best, and only, friend Thad. Thad has been exiled from his mother and step fathers house to a trailer on the edge of their property. His step-father can't stand the sight of him. He 'drinks until he can't stand anymore and then beats his wife until she can't stand either'. Cut to Aiden and Thad's twenties worst case scenarios. Aiden has racked up quite a criminal record & Thad has a host of injuries and nightmares from his deployment to Afghanistan. Thad and Aiden play well into the excuse of being victims of poor circumstance. They shamelessly use their theft and crimes to fuel their booze and drug binges. They blow every dime they have and barely scrape by. Aiden desperately wants to leave behind Little Canada and the life that they lead to salvage something worth living for. Thad can hardly function without numbing himself from the actions he took in the name of war. A unique situation presents itself that they may escape their hellish bed they've made for themselves to lie in. Secrets are revealed, tragic turns and the boys are faced with just how far they are willing to go to try and get justice. Joy effortlessly brings these drug-addled characters to life. While it is nearly impossible to feel anything but disgust for them, I was very interested in seeing how things turned out. This wasn't necessarily a book I could not put down, it was too cringey for that. They were more than a few times I had to turn away. Though I always came back for more. I had to read the train wreck that is their lives to its end and it was worth it.

At times I cringed away from these characters. They're rough around the edges to say the least. That being said, while the characters weren't really likable, the author did a great job fleshing them out and making them seem human. Nothing that they did seemed out of character or dramatic for them and the novel just keeps following their faced-paced, downward spiral until they come out different at the end. I don't want to say better, because they haven't suddenly become stellar people. But they did come to some realizations and grew as characters. I sympathized with Aiden's longing for a family. Something so simple for a lot of us was the one thing he craved more than anything else. The descriptions were crisp and easy to picture. I appreciated how the author held back on the gore. Some nasty things happen without every gritty, bloody detail being described and I have to admit that choice kept me from loathing one of the characters completely or putting down the book.

This book is definitely not a pick-me-up. The story is dark, depressing, and leaves the reader feeling hopeless about life. Although I enjoyed the writing and the character development, the plot was often uneven, and I despised the ending of this book. Some people may enjoy this read, but it simply was not for me.

I was profoundly moved by this novel. The writing is elegant, while evoking a far-from-elegant setting. The characters are deeply tragic.

Aiden and Thad are lifelong friends who live in rural North Carolina and have thus far survived a hardscrabble life in their 20 + years of living. This novel had me gritting my teeth due to the degree of oppression suffered by the characters, their poor choices fueled by drugs, and all of the violent descriptions. One has to give credit to the author who is able to sustain the constant level of despondency throughout this read. Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.

This book definitely went into the darkness. There was a lot going on in this story. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book in the beginning, but soon I couldn't stop thinking about what was going to happen next. It really showed how the characters were shaped. I enjoyed this book.

The title of this book couldn’t be more appropriate. Thanks to Joy’s writing, I could feel the weight of the world that these characters, Thad, Aiden and April, were carrying around with them. The character development was fantastic and I found myself hoping they would be able to turn their lives around. In their own way, each of the characters hits their so called, breaking point and have a choice, do I continue on with my current self-destructive path or is it time to make a change. Make no mistake about it this is a dark story, with drugs, alcohol, sex and murder. I was uncomfortable at times, and pondering quitting the book but decided to continue on in hope of a more uplifting ending. This is not the kind of book I usually gravitate towards but I believe in reading outside the box at times and am glad I did.

Two hooligans who would not be likeable in the real world, but compelling characters in this story. I'm not a fan of tons of detail when reading but the author really used detailed imagery to his advantage. There were a couple of editorial errors, for example, what is a jar of Maybelline? When you wonder why people behave as they do, this story is a great example of what happens in life that forms the people we are. My feelings toward the three main characters changed constantly. One minute I hated them and wanted to tell them to get it together. Then I felt such sympathy for them. Really enjoyed the book!

This book was not what I was expecting it to be and not exactly my normal genre. Still, the writing was excellent and it sucked me in. I read it in one sitting.

I was given the opportunity to read this book from First to Read. The story is very tragic, the characters are so lost and love starved. Their lives taken over by drugs and booze to deaden the pain of every day life and memories of military service. While I usually don't choose to read books like this, the writing was fantastic. Every thing feels so real. I felt shame, frustration, revulsion and sympathy. The two boys were thrown out into the World when they weren't able to survive. Unfortunately, this happens in our world, too. I just wanted the characters to finally find some hope for something better. I could not stop reading this book once started. The title was so appropriate. Even though it is dark, I can recommend this book to any reader. It really gets you thinking !! Book Clubs would have plenty to discuss.

I could not out this book down once I started reading. The subject matter was grim and sad, however the writing was so fantastic that I could not begin to leave it behind. Aiden and Thad go through their lives of hardships with each other, however a tour of duty has left Thad with a hole where his heart used to be. There are drugs, alcohol, and murder in this book, however it all comes from a true place of pain from the world that exists for the boys. I would really like to read more from this author.

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.

A moving novel about two hardscrabble characters trying to manage to navigate through a relentlessly brutal world. David Joy's writing is fresh and lyrical.

The weight of this world has weighed heavily on the shoulders of the three main characters. Thad is back from a tour in Afghanistan and can’t come to terms with the horrific event that happened there. His mother, April, has her own secrets and violent past that she’s battling to get out from under. And Aidan watched his father kill himself and Aidan’s mother when he was a child. There’s no honest work to be found so Thad and Aidan find some dishonest work and both turn to alcohol and drugs to get through their days. When their drug dealer violently dies, his drugs and money are theirs but only if they can stay away from the meth long enough to figure out what to do with it. Doesn’t sound too cheery, does it? This is a very dark book but that isn’t what bothered me about this one. We each have our own demons to bear and while some people’s demons may be worse than others, we all have choices to make in life. We can choose to blame our rotten luck and we can blame our stupid choices on others. But in the end, those choices are ours to make and we really only have ourselves to blame for them. This author didn’t seem to see it that way. In reading the glowing reviews of this book, I expected to feel great compassion for these characters. They certainly had been through a lot and I tried to feel compassionate for them. But while I felt sympathy for them, I also felt turned off by them and their choices. I now read those glowing reviews and wonder how the writers of those reviews could have read the same book as I did. At one point Aidan says, “Perhaps God just had it out for certain folks and he’d been borne one of the unlucky ones.” That’s pretty much the theme of the whole book. So why am I giving it even 3 stars? The writing is really beautiful. Here’s one random example taken from an Advanced Reading Copy so the wording may change in the final edition: “They crawled along the edges of great cairns, stones the size of houses balanced with an unfathomable gravity as if they’d been set just so by the hands of some watchmaker god.” The beauty of the language the author uses in some places contrasts sharply with the rough, coarse language used elsewhere. If these characters could have looked around them at the beauty that the author was describing instead of wallowing in their miserable pasts, their spirits would have lifted. While I found the book unpleasant to read, it really is a brilliant lesson on why you shouldn’t let the weight of the world weigh you down. Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. ~ Helen Keller

This book had me hooked from the opening paragraphs. I was drawn to the descriptions of the hill country juxtaposed against the hopelessness of the lives of the protagonists. All three of the main characters are severely damaged at different times of their lives two of which believe if they just get off the mountain, life will change for them. And one believes he can never leave. I found the book engrossing and felt the energy build to the end.

This is a well written novel that I could not put down. It takes you through the lives of three people from a really small town and the events that shaped their lives. I can't help but think things would have turned out better, for Thad at least, if the VA would have given him adequate care when he came home from the war. It's a story with no happy ending. My heart broke for all three characters. I would definitely suggest this book! Thanks First to Read for allowing me to preview it!

I really disliked all three of the main characters in this book... but I could not put it down! At times I wanted to slap some sense into them. A few pages later I wanted to hug them. I really enjoyed it and will definitely read more from Joy.

This is a rather tragic book. Well written, but sad. I happen to enjoy dark books though. I liked this one, but might not be to everyone's taste.

A compelling and harrowing novel that I could not put down. Set in the backcountry mountains of North Carolina, the story follows two boys, Thad and Aiden, who become friends as children and remain close as the years pass. The common thread of childhood trauma and abandonment ties their lives together, but when Thad returns from war suffering from PTSD and drug-induced psychosis, Aiden is also sucked down the rabbit hole. A story of the burdens of the past and how the past can haunt our present.


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