Weightless by Sarah Bannan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Length: Full (321 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Cholla
When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean girl bone in her body Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take.
A novel to drop us all back into the intensity of our high school years, WEIGHTLESS is a startling and assured debut.
Sarah Bannan’s deft use of the first person plural gives Weightless an emotional intensity and remarkable power that will send you flying through the pages and leave you reeling.
No one ever said that high school would be easy, but it’s extra difficult when you’ve been transplanted from a boarding school in New York and dropped right in the middle of rural Alabama. Just ask Carolyn Lessing, a beautiful, popular girl that everyone wants to be friends with. That is, until she does the unthinkable and suddenly the whole world is against her. What’s a girl to do when you’re the one that everyone loves to hate?
Carolyn Lessing was living a happy life in New Jersey until her mother gets promoted and they move to Adamsville, Alabama, a rural old-fashioned sort of place that is the opposite of everything she’s ever known. At first, it all seems so easy because everyone wants to be the new girl’s friend. But once Carolyn starts dating the star of the football team, it all starts to come apart at the seams. What begins as simple gossip soon escalates to much more – harassment and outright bullying of Carolyn by Adams High’s elite.
The most intriguing part of this novel is the narrator. Told from the perspective of ‘we’, the narrator is the eyes and ears of the entire school, the collective student body in so many ways. The narrator is constantly saying things like ‘if we had only known’ and ‘or at least that’s what we heard’ and it gives you great insight into how information and rumors spread through a group of teenagers.
It makes me intensely sad and discouraged to think that this is the way that high school is in today’s world. Having two teenaged daughters, this novel hit me in a very real way. Are teens so clueless that they can’t see that their actions hurt others or are they so insulated from the fallout due to the internet that it doesn’t affect them? Weightless raises many questions along these lines and I honestly feel it’s a book that both teens and parents need to read in today’s world of social media and instant gratification. In a lot of ways, Weightless is a frustrating and aggravating book. But on the flip side, it’s eye-opening and encouraging as well. You have to hope that the kids in this story were altered by what transpired in their school and maybe, just maybe, the changed for the better. I highly recommend this to any teen struggling to do the right thing and every parent trying to help their kids make the right decisions.