It would be easy to look past Weightless if you simply read the blurbs describing the novel. Bullying. High School. Cheerleaders. New Girl. After all, there is no shortage of books with these keywords. But, if you do, you will miss out on one of the best young adult novels of the year.
Weightless carries a great deal of weight with strong characters set against the backdrop of a high school in the deep south. When Carolyn moves to a small town, she finds instant popularity. In a place where change is not a constant, the new girl is an interesting toy for her peers to scrutinize. Gossip is old school; social media provides her critics with multiple platforms to dissect her life for everyone to see. And, everyone watches the story unfold, and no one does anything about it.
Bannan uses the second person plural to weave her story. And, this is no easy task. After all, it is the point of view creative writing teachers warn against using. To Bannan’s credit, she accomplishes this with great ease and provides a perfect example of this perspective. No doubt, creative writing teachers and professors will add Weightless to their list of examples.
The second person plural creates one of the most interesting storytelling perspectives I’ve experienced. Readers are simply pulled into the high school world, not realizing they are becoming part of conscious observers to the train wreck around Carolyn Lessing. “We” stand back and allow others to destroy through cyberbullying and an apathetic attitude toward another human being.
At one point, I found myself saying, “When is enough, enough? Somebody do something before — “ But then again, that’s the point isn’t it? Standing up for what is right and decent isn’t the norm, especially with high school students.
If you’re reading Weightless as a parent of a teenager, expect honesty. This isn’t a Hollywood tale you can dismiss because this kind of thing only happens in the movies. Do not be naive. It’s happening. And, it’s happening in the world around you. I’d recommend this novel for young adults over the age of twelve. As you read, ask yourself, “What would I do?” Would you be one of the conscious observers? Or, would you speak up?
If you have a stack of books to read, add Weightless to the top of the stack. You don’t want to miss this one.
Weightless is published by St. Martin’s Griffin. 336 pages. ISBN 1250078989 / 978-1250078988