Great Falls author Connor Kianpour. Some of the stories in his memoir, “Heavy: a recollection,” are set in school cafeterias like this one at Great Falls Elementary.
In his first book, “Heavy: a recollection,” Great Falls author Connor Kianpour has written a lot about the role the school cafeteria played in his experience with weight gain and loss, but those experiences have nothing to do with school nutrition. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made what the USDA is calling, “the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, . . . the new standards align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America’s schools.” Through his writing, Kianpour would like to promote a similar realignment in attitude toward the substance of a person despite what seems to be the real world’s preoccupation with image. “I wrote this book . . . to inspire a new kind of behavior in people,” Kianpour says in the preface to Heavy. He thinks that, “[i]t would be nice for people to show interest and compassion” to those who may be less secure and more self-conscious.
Kianpour writes about real world circumstances that today’s children experience in the school cafeteria, and life in general, when they do not fit the social norm. In his case, Kianpour was wearing men’s adult size pants at age eight.
BY AGE TEN, he was seventy to ninety pounds heavier than the average 10-year-old boy. “All I wanted, at the time,” Kianpour writes, “was a friend who tried to understand what I felt. Because, if I had that type of friend, . . . I would have had . . . somebody to tell me that I was still a priority to them.”
Kianpour credits his ninth grade English teacher at Langley High School, Vivian Jewell, with teaching him how to add detail to journal entries, transforming them into stories. This past summer, with a goal of losing some more weight, he decided that it would be constructive to think through how being overweight had impacted his life. His recollections began as journal entries, but took on the shape of stories and, by applying what he learned in Jewell’s class, he was able to build those stories into a book. Writing and promoting the book became his summer job; and he approached it with the same organization, discipline and willpower as he exhibits in some of his stories—writing and rewriting a different chapter each day. He also wrote and directed a trailer promoting the book. One of the young women he enlisted to appear in the trailer, Caroline Bollinger, a 10th grade classmate at Langley High School, said, “I loved working with Connor to help him tell his story and promote his book. I didn't go into the trailer shooting expecting to talk about my own insecurities, but I'm really happy to have done so. I think a lot of people will be able to connect to the trailer and the book.”
Kianpour says that when the first printing of his book was delivered on Sept. 12, 2012, it was a good feeling to know that the book was done and ready to go, but that an even better day was when he approached a fellow student and, with confidence and maturity, asked him not to make comments at Kianpour’s expense and to be more empathetic. “There is satisfaction in standing up for yourself,” says Kianpour, “I personally have not experienced a better feeling.”
FROM THE TIME he was in elementary school, Kianpour says, “I was always reading and writing. I am definitely going to pursue writing to some extent. It will always be one of my passions.” He is confident that, “everything will work out as it is meant to,” and that lessons learned through adversity are valuable. “Heavy: a recollection” is available through Amazon.com in a print edition ($9.50) and Kindle e-book format ($5.75). The trailer promoting the book can be viewed at http://heavybyconnorkianpour.weebly.com/promotions.html.