19th Nov 2012
Nothing is Heavy by Vicki Jarrett
Shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2011, Nothing is Heavy steps into the lives of local late-night chippie worker Beth, pole-dancer Amber and the apathetic and broken-hearted George.
The book opens on an average Saturday night in Junction Street. Beth serves chips to another hen party, Amber is working the pole across the street at Fantasy Island and George is on a stag do in a monkey costume.
When Amber does the fast food run for the girls at the club, it sets in motion a series of events that force the lives of Beth, Amber and George together. But it won’t be for the first time.
Following a dramatic death in the chippie, unlikely duo Beth and Amber to team up and take action.
As the story unfolds, they discover that their paths have crossed before and that their lives are in destiny’s hands.
As the story continues, more is revealed about the history of each of the three main characters, illuminating their past and the small world that they inhabit.
The first quarter of the book is both intriguing and amusing. Jarrett has a very visual style of writing – and while the city where the story is set is never known, the reader can see this place, hear the sounds and feel the atmosphere.
However, having a main narrative that deals largely with the idea of fate means that most of the scenarios in the book appear as somewhat contrived – cheapening the effect of what would be an otherwise totally unique story.
The action falters half way through where so much backstory is explained about each of the main characters that nothing much really happens. The pace drags for a large proportion of the middle of the book – particularly detrimental in a story set within a single evening.
Around this time there’s also plot-point which just seems to come out of nowhere. Again, the circumstances seem contrived and while shock factor plays a part, it feels more like a cheap trick to move the plot forward.
After a bit of an lull, the story picks up again and takes the reader into an amusing car chase, gathering just enough pace and momentum to continue through to the end, bit by bit revealing how the lives of the three main characters are interwoven.
Jarrett takes on a lot of huge themes: apathy, illness, loss, love, family and poverty and how everyone is, in some way, connected. Sadly, the contrived scenarios and plot points cheapen the effect of the overall story.
Recommended for: Fans of pulp fiction, mystery, crime.