Jeremy has spent eight months working from home for The Forward Foodie, sampling and blogging about all types of delicious food. In this time, Jeremy has gained forty pounds and as his weight has increased, his confidence has taken a nose-dive.
The Forward Foodie has now been taken over by lifestyle blog, GreenCorp, who focus on healthy eating and fitness. Though they still want to employ Jeremy, he has his doubts, especially after viewing GreenCorp’s website and the fit, attractive people who work for the company.
One GreenCorp employee, in particular, has caught Jeremy’s eye. From his company photo, Jeremy can see that Ryan Bennett is not only gorgeous, but fit, and Jeremy vows to start a new diet and gym regime – not only in an attempt to impress Ryan, but also to address his confidence issues.
On meeting with his new boss, Mark Cruise, Jeremy immediately dislikes him. Mark is condescending and rude, hinting that Jeremy’s appearance will be a hindrance without blatantly expressing any prejudice about Jeremy’s weight. The day’s only saving grace is Jeremy’s first face-to-face meeting with Ryan, who is warm and friendly and offers to be Jeremy’s gym buddy. Yet, in order for this spark to ignite between the pair, Jeremy has to address his insecurities about his appearance and accept the old cliche that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
In my opinion, Jason Collins has done a fantastic job with Weight for Happiness. I loved the ease with which the story flowed and once I started the book, I did not want to stop reading. I particularly liked how Collins chooses to break certain expectations of the romance genre. There are so many novels that feature physically perfect protagonists that for someone like me, who has always struggled with my weight and confidence, Jeremy’s character is validating and relatable. Many of Jeremy’s issues arise from how he compares himself to others so that he has difficulty in believing Ryan’s compliments, even those about his writing talent.
Collins has clearly given careful thought to Jeremy’s character, revealing all of his vulnerabilities and introverted personality, without making him detached. Because of this, I think Jeremy is more substantial and this adds to the authentic richness of Collins’ story.
Ryan is opposite to Jeremy in many ways. He is confident, but not arrogant, and just casually accepts the attention he receives from both men and women. He is also kind and much of the time he is in Jeremy’s company is spent reassuring Jeremy and encouraging him, without any hint of reproach. It is Ryan’s acceptance and compassion that made me believe in the relationship between them, although I have to admit that Collins had me guessing about their future together as Weight of Happiness developed.
Ryan’s bisexuality is mentioned within the story and the fact that he does not want to be put into a “box.” However, Collins ensures that the reader understands that it is not Ryan’s choice of who he has sex with that bothers Jeremy and I think this is important to how we see both characters.
For me, Weight for Happiness had an interesting and unexpected twist that helps to individualize Collins’ novel. The more that Collins reveals to his reader about Mark’s attitude towards Jeremy, the more we understand that Jeremy is not alone and that his self-deprecating thoughts have not been shared in any way by his colleagues and friends. The element of threat also made me unsure whether Jeremy would get his deserved happy ending.
In Weight for Happiness, Collins proves himself to be a sympathetic author with a talent for writing solid characters whom the reader can respond to. I think Weight for Happiness is a feel-good novel with depth and I would not hesitate to read any of Collins’ other books.