Weightless is a new coming of age novel that aims to challenge stereotypes, sexism, slut shaming, and double standards.
Fifteen-year-old Carolyn and her mother move from New Jersey to Alabama. Carolyn is smart, sporty and slim; a good student and a fantastic athlete, she’s naturally welcomed in her high school’s cliques. She even begins dating a senior named Shane. Unfortunately, Shane has been in an on and off relationship with his girlfriend Brooke who soon becomes Carolyn’s rival. When a video of Carolyn and Shane in their intimate moments is leaked out, she goes from the perfect, golden girl to the school’s slut. This is the perfect opportunity for Brooke and her best friend Gemma to regain their popularity and “prestige”. Carolyn is now surrounded by bullying and gossip. She is left isolated and no one seems to be fond of her anymore. People are quick to have assumptions about her but no one seems to question Shane who was a willing participant in the video. He is not questioned or bashed simply because he is a guy. Eventually, Brooke and Shane get back together and confront Carolyn in a student parking lot, leaving her injured. This is the last attack Carolyn can take.
The synopsis might seem unoriginal and I did initially feel like I could easily predict what would happen next in the story. However, this book took me on an unexpected and emotional journey. Author Sarah Bannan uses first person plural – I’ve personally read very few books that utilized first person plural narration – to add definition and originality to Weightless. The new perspective made me wonder who the “we” mentioned actually was. The narrator of the story is not the one being bullied. The actual “we” wasn’t explained and I assumed that other classmates were narrating the story. I could be wrong.
The writing was authentic and raw, giving the bullying an added intencity. As a reader, I had to take breaks in between reading–the concepts are painful to read about but it is reality. Weightless is a powerful, emotional, painful, and a realistic novel that readers are likely to learn something from.
Benish Khan has her B.A in Psychology and Religion from the University of New York. She’s a psychologist and artist by day, and a bookworm by night. She currently blogs at feministreflections.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.