The Weight We Carry
Black Rose Writing
Barnes & Noble
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Release Date: October 12, 2023
Marissa Raffaelo-Moretta is used to shouldering the burden. As the middle child, she's played the mediator role for longer than she cares to admit. As a mother, she's taken on the exhausting task of primary caregiver. And as a daughter and nurse practitioner, she's spent her adult life being responsible for her parents' physical and mental health.
When her stubborn and impulsive father, Frank, falls and refuses to stay at rehab, she and her brothers bring him home, and Marissa upends her life: she temporarily moves into her parents' house, which takes precious time away from her two sons and jeopardizes her job. Soon, Marissa recognizes that life as they've all known it is about to change: while Frank's ineffective legs are worrisome, her mother Angie's memory issues might be a more urgent dilemma.
A heartbreaking and emotional story of the toll that health crises can have on an entire family, The Weight We Carry reminds us of the fine line between reliance and independence, tending and mothering, and love and obligation.
"The Weight We Carry actually made me feel lighter---Consolino beautifully captures the frustrating, heartbreaking reality of dealing with aging, failing parents, but does so with a story that lifted, rather than burdened me. I fell in love with these relatable, flawed, struggling characters, and appreciated the lovely humor in these pages, too. Anyone trapped in the sandwich generation will feel seen."
-Katrina Kittle, author of Morning in This Broken World
"With insight and love, Christina Consolino presents us with a beautiful story of a family touched by dementia, aging parents, and life's ongoing challenges. She balances both the happy and the difficult moments while looking to the future and the possibility of renewal. The Weight We Carry is a gift."
-Jenn Bouchard, author of First Course
"Truth-filled, gritty, and informative, The Weight We Carry is based in a reality that every person would find enthralling and endearing. Aging parents with health conditions are a part of life for many, and this story provides a window into the struggles that adult children face and sustains hope for not only surviving but thriving. This important novel will remain in my heart for a long time."
-C. D'Angelo, award-winning author of The Difference and The Visitor
"With literary realism reminiscent of the work of author Anne Tyler, Consolino has a gift for depicting the complications of family life---marital discourse, sibling rivalry, resentment, denial, and emotional plunges and flares---as well as the mundane that mark her characters' days. By sharing each point of view, Consolino highlights how identity and sense of belonging tug at the fabric of family, particularly during a time of crisis. Finally, the author provides us with closure that is both sweet, satisfying, and honest. A must read!"
-Elizabeth Sumner Wafler, author of A Cleft in the World
"In her poignant second novel, Christina Consolino shines a spotlight on the sneaky early signs of dementia, and more importantly, how often those warnings are missed by loved ones. Alternating among the perspectives of Marissa—a member of the 'sandwich' generation, her elderly father Frank, and an older woman referred to simply as 'Her,' The Weight We Carry describes the challenges of caring for loved ones who refuse to acknowledge their situation. Each of the three protagonists carries a burden. For Marissa, it's the responsibility for her parents’ well-being; for Frank, it’s an age-old secret about his deceased brother; and for the unnamed woman, it’s an instinctive, frightening knowledge about her own body. With dignity and insight, Consolino explores the possibility of an unconventional happily-ever-after, regardless of age and physical or mental agility. A compelling, timely story that will resonate with readers.
-Jill Caugherty, author of The View from Half Dome and Waltz in Swing Time
"The Weight We Carry follows a family that must come together around aging parents. Unique to this book is its emphasis on the stressful process before official diagnoses are made. In this segmented novel, Marissa’s anxious caretaking of her parents and their complicated response to losing agency is sure to connect with readers, who will also be compelled by memories and familial dynamics that surface and are put to the test for the Raffaelo family."
-Amanda Fields, co-editor, My Caesarean and Editor in Chief, Literary Mama
"The Weight We Carry is an astounding portrayal of a woman caught between her love for the
family she’s built and her obligation to the family she was born into. With heart and empathy,
Consolino crystallizes the experience of the sandwiched caregivers who are exhausted from
keeping all the plates spinning, while simultaneously understanding the honor many of us feel
fulfilling these roles. I wanted so badly for Marissa to get an afternoon to herself with a good
glass of wine and a great read. I hope the same for you, dear reader, and a crisp rosé and this
book are my recommendations."
-Erin Flanagan, Edgar-winning author of Come With Me
Chapter 1: Her
The woman stared at the monarch butterfly perched outside the kitchen window screen. Thin, jointed legs. Long black antenna. Brilliant orange wings with white spots along the outer edges. She didn’t know what attracted the butterflies to that spot, but it didn’t matter. Joy arrived in all shapes and sizes, and that creature alone brought peace to her kitchen. Looking away, she moved the pieces of her handmade confections on the platter, finding a spot for each among the crevices of the flat, ceramic flower. Caramels enrobed in dark ganache sat next to cream-filled milk chocolates, and pieces of cocoa toffee crunch lounged near the layers of coconut clusters and mounds of petite candied roses.
She paused in her work, stepping back to admire the beauty of the art she’d pulled forth that morning. The stream of June light threading through the blinds of the kitchen highlighted the tray of treats, and beyond it, the butterfly still stood, immobile, as if inspecting her handiwork too. The corners of her mouth turned upward. I’ve still got it, she thought and then wiped her fingers across the stained kitchen apron she’d bought thirty years ago. Every holiday or family gathering since then, she spent far too much time making her candy tray look impeccable. When she was finished with it, the large platter of delights would hold not only a spread of dipped chocolates but also a trove of delicious nuggets that collectively resembled the flower garden beyond her house.
She walked around the tray, assessing its fullness and whether the choices could all be seen by the chooser, and there it was—a small gap of space at the rear. A spot large enough to hold several more cranberry clusters or maybe her favorite candy—the milk chocolate raspberry cream nougat. But what did she usually put there? The dark chocolate fudge? Or her special cocoa-coffee truffles? The tick of the clock’s second hand strummed a steady beat, and a cold sweat broke out across the back of her neck. Her family would arrive soon; she didn’t have time to waste.
The candy timer buzzed as the woman gently positioned five white chocolate truffles—one for each of her grandchildren—in the open space. It’s perfect, she thought, and a slow warmth spread throughout her chest at the image of her grandsons and granddaughter. Her fingers smoothed back the stray hair that had fallen over her eyes, and she adjusted her glasses. A niggling feeling, something she couldn’t identify, boiled in the pit of her stomach, but she forced a smile across her once youthful face. When she glanced one last time out the window, the monarch had disappeared.