“There’s only so many times a heart can break. One day, it will be okay, but it’ll heal all wrong. It’ll heal with you outside of it.”
The Weight on Skin by Beena Khan is an adult own-voices South Asian contemporary romance novel about a man named Kabir who is struggling to move on with his life after a devastating heartbreak. Feeling empty, lonely, and sombre, Kabir tries to fill the void within his heart through the company of other women, only to be left hollow in their wake. When ghosts from Kabir’s past resurface, he shall be forced to confront the darkest parts of himself.
If there is anything that the author does fantastically, it is slow-burn romances. It was the best aspect of her previous novel—and sibling novel to The Weight on Skin—called The Name of Red and it is the quintessential star of the show here as well. Couple that with the excellent representation of the complexities of coping through an emotionally destructive heartbreak and positively beautiful writing, then one has themselves a romance contemporary that is ripe for the binge-reading.
Kabir is a character that I adored in The Name of Red. There is an innocence and a compassion about him that makes it difficult not to form some sort of emotional attachment to him. To witness his utter psychological destruction was a gut-wrenching experience. However, the growth that occurs in the aftermath of all that agonising grief is exceptional and a wonderfully picturesque allegory for hope.
“Hope, Kabir. Hope gives you the courage to move on.”
Losing a loved one—no matter the circumstance or method—leaves behind a surfeit of complicated emotions, such as grief, guilt, anger, longing, loneliness, and a profound sense of hopelessness. Kabir exhibits all of these different feelings, which later lays down a vital foundation for him to then grow upon. Every heartbreak leads to a special form of self-growth and maturity. Oft times people do not realise they not only have the fortitude within them to pick up and move forward, but also to shape and mould who they are into the best versions of themselves. By the time the book’s finale appears before the reader’s eyes, Kabir would have grown into a stunningly remarkable person, the pinnacle of hope.
Another character that steps into the spotlight in the pages of The Weight on Skin is Nadia, who was Kabir’s best friend. She intrigued me in the previous novel, however, due to her limited presence in the story, I never associated much of a connection to her. Here she is a game-changer. Nadia is a marvellous contrast to Red, which really helps to define the dualities within Kabir’s character and highlight his inner turmoil, making them both impeccably multi-faceted individuals.
Mrs Khan’s writing is the magical cohesive that brings all of the different parts of the story together in a highly-engaging and heart-fluttering manner. It is carefully crafted with charming details that truly immerse the reader into the world and budding relationship that takes place between both characters, evoking a spectrum of responses that illustrate exactly what it means to be human.
The structure of the evocative atmosphere truly enhance the slow-burn romance in magnificent ways. If there is anything that I detest in romances, it is insta-love. I much prefer a coupling to build their connection on meaningful exchanges—whether it is sweet and soft, or vicious and witty—because it accentuates the development of a deep-rooted longing in the relationship. It is gratifying and sensuous and irresistibly delightful. Kabir and Nadia’s exchanges are exactly like this; never rushed or brusque for the sake of forcing the story along. Rather than being superficial and one-dimensional, it is built upon the value of formulating bonds that connect the past to the present, misery to joy.
Overall, I cannot recommend The Weight on Skin enough to romance readers, especially folx who prefer a gradual building of emotions and compassion between two people; individuals searching for a genuine depiction of heartbreak that is not ostensibly imagined. Great writing. Superb characters. Lovely messages on the power of hope and the heart-warming promises on the other side of rejection.