“Heavy: An American Memoir” book review

Author Kiese Laymon was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi

Memoir is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres, but this one is edgier and more provocative than what I normally read.

It is heavy. No pun intended.

When a book is as highly praised and rated as this one, I struggle with Reader Guilt when I don’t appreciate it as much as the big time, famous book critics. Not to mention all the celebrated author blurbs on the first few pages . . .

Laymon’s memoir is written to his brilliant and complicated mother, who is a bitter and angry person. It appears as though she wants Kiese to be just like her, however, she is a conflicted, tragic woman. There are disturbing and explicit elements in the book including sexual abuse, physical abuse, and addiction.

“I was eleven years old, five-nine, 208 pounds when you told me to stand still and act like your husband. You’d just given me your daddy’s musty brown brim, five dollars, and the directive to play the slot machine next to yours. We were under the stars on the Vegas Strip celebrating the only Christmas we’d ever spent away from Grandmama’s shotgun house in Forest, Mississippi.”

Kiese Laymon, Heavy

Ultimately, “Heavy” is Laymon’s personal story so it’s not for me to judge it for accuracy or truth. I admire his eloquence in sharing his experience but recommend you read a few reviews to determine if it’s for you.

To be clear, I do NOT shy away from painful and tragic memoirs. Check out my favorite memoirs in a previous post.

Happy Reading!


  1. As a lover of memoirs, especially super emotional ones, I’m intrigued. I’m also curious as to what about it you didn’t love. I will definitely check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

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