Erryn and Bethany review ‘The Shape of You’ by Felice Stevens. This book was released by the author on June 27, 2017 and is 280 pgs. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Nick J. Russo and released on September 13, 2017. The audiobook is 6 hrs and 45 mins long.
NOTE: Bethany received a copy in exchange for an honest review. Erryn purchased her copy.
Why I read this book:
[Erryn]. The synopsis drew me in. I suspected I would be able to relate to others who were struggling with weight issues.
[Bethany] As someone who struggles with weight, I knew I needed to read and listen to this one.
Too big. Too fat.
All his life Eric Sontag has judged himself on his size, believing love and friendship aren’t in the cards for someone like him. Tired of being alone and scared of his doctor’s warnings, he enrolls in a nutrition support group, determined to change his life. When a beautiful thin man sits next to him, he can’t believe they have anything in common, but conversation between the two soon proves first impressions aren’t always what they seem.
Corey DeSantis has always been the scrawny waif; he’s tired of struggling with his art and with life. Scarred by the disappearance and death of his drug-addicted mother, he doesn’t wish for love, believing it will bring him nothing but pain in the end. Now his only hunger in life is his desire to paint…until a health scare and his mentor force him to attend a nutrition class where he meets a man who piques his interest. One drunken kiss later, Eric is all Corey can think about.
The same, yet different.
An unlikely friendship is born with both men wanting more but afraid to listen to their well-guarded hearts. When Corey receives shocking news leaving him angry and helpless, it’s Eric he leans on, to help see him through, while a surprising career opportunity finds Eric leaning on Corey for advice. One night of explosive passion leads to a second and soon neither man can imagine a life without the other. Life is shaped by the challenges accepted and roads not taken but as Corey and Eric walk the path together, they’ll discover the most beautiful destination of all. Love.
This is the second time I’ve listened to this audiobook by Felice Stevens, narrated by Nick J. Russo. They are two of my favourites and together they have created a great book.
This story joins N.R. Walker’s ‘The Weight of it All’ and Cardeno C’s ‘Not a Game’ as one of the great books that use humour to address a fairly serious topic—weight.
Women have struggled, pretty much since…I don’t know…sugar and chocolate being introduced? The Industrial Revolution? All time? Weight shaming has also been around forever as well. In fact, in some instances, it is still considered acceptable to ridicule a fat person (often under the guise of ‘encouraging’ them to lose weight and become healthy).
Men also face these issues, but their battles are often ignored or minimized. Many of the psychological issues that drive women to seek comfort in food are the same for men – depression, loneliness, family drama, stress, pain, too little time to eat healthy, and more.
One scene in particular spoke to me. Eric has to get on a busy subway during rush hour. He is harangued by a guy for taking up too much space. I’ve been there. Less of the verbal abuse, but more of the ‘Oh, God, please don’t let that fat woman sit next to me’ looks. Or even worse, when I sit next to someone and the other person sighs heavily, snickers, or even gets up and moves. For the record, the subway seats are so small that even the smallest and thinnest people have to touch – but often I’m treated like I have a contagious disease. In my mind, I say ‘you think this is bad? You should have seen me when I was 125lbs heavier – you’re getting off easy…’ Then I deride myself for still being fat. Not as fat as I was, but still not what most people would see as ‘acceptable’.
So I understand why Eric is so upset that when he sees fresh-baked crullers, he reaches for one or two. As so often happens, the guilt that follows is overwhelming and the temporary comfort is gone, leaving acute shame.
Eric gets a buddy in his journey to learn better eating habits. He meets Corey on the first day of a nutrition class. He’s surprised and wary when Corey proposes they be partners because the only thing Eric sees they have in common is being gay.
Corey is gorgeous. Thin, attractive, and perfect. Eric knows that Corey is out of his league and can’t figure out why the other man is even in the class.
Eric has the same blind spot that many people do – you can never be too thin or too rich. Well, Corey might not be rich, but he is too thin. In fact, his job is on the line if he doesn’t start taking care of his health, eat nutritiously, and gain weight. There are people who fight with being underweight. They may be anorexic, have an illness, a psychological issue with food, or even just be unable to gain weight (yes, this is a thing – I have a friend who struggled to gain weight for years).
Corey’s history, slowly revealed, shows why he battles with food. Eric’s relationship with food and its associations is also addressed, evoking strong emotions from me as I could relate to his pain.
Eric and Corey bond over the need to get healthy. They become a duo in both the mission and in romance. And although the sex – when they finally are willing to admit to the attraction – is hot and the men are physically attracted to each other, it was the emotional intimacy that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling. To be loved and accepted is powerful. To be with someone willing to support you through a painful period of transformation is amazing. These men want each other to succeed yet both have moments of doubt—that they are capable of change as well as whether the other man really loves him. The end result is a happy couple who have beaten the odds.
Sometimes it’s not the number on the scale, but the happiness in your heart. Both men will always have food issues, but each now has a partner who will support and love him through all of life’s up and downs.
I did note that although Corey’s past was confronted, there was room for another story about Eric dealing with his. (Short story, anyone?)
There were moments of levity in the book, for sure, but it was the poignant moment at the end, when Corey gave Eric a special gift, that really cemented the book and the men in my life.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
You know when I I think of people struggling with weight my mind, first thing that comes to mind is how much weight I need to lose to be happy. Then I guess I think it’s women who struggle with weight issues, but I need to stop that because there are plenty of men who struggle with the issue of weight. This book is definitely an eye opener.
Felice Stevens has quickly become an auto-buy for me, and Nick J Russo is one of my favorite narrators, so this was a win-win for me.
Eric, absolutely holds a very special place in my heart. I related with him so much. The desire to lose weight, the yo-yo dieting. The losing, then the gaining it all back. He loved his father so much, and lost him to his weight. My mom is my best friend and she struggles with her weight and all I kept thinking was “God I can’t lose my mom like Eric lost his dad.” So yes I relate to Eric, I see myself in Eric, and I just wanted him to succeed in his journey and finally be healthy and have a happy ever after.
Enter Corey. Well while I relate to Eric in many ways, I also relate to Corey. His snarkiness is something I find myself doing a lot, and it is his defense mechanism just as it is mine. So yea, while he struggles to gain and be healthy, and I struggle to lose and be healthy, I love his personality. But underneath it all he is unhappy, and struggles to be comfortable in his own skin. And for that I just wanted to hug him.
But as different as these two may seem on paper, together they are like puzzle pieces. They just fit. I do love a good opposites attract story and this one fit the bill. Watching them both, finding it hard to believe that the other could actually want them was heartbreaking, but oh what a beautiful journey it was when they finally did accept the others’ love.
I highly highly recommend this book, and audio, because, as always, listening to Nick is pure heaven. Nick is a brilliant narrator who transforms an author’s characters into the people I imagine they sound like when I read the ebook version.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, My characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love.
I live in New York City with my husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of my own. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there are bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.