Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway: Weightless

Published By: Bloomsbury Circus (Australia)
*US Edition will be published by St. Martin's Griffin*
Publication Date: April 1, 2015 (UK & ANZ)/June 30, 2015 (US)
Page Count: 352
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Young Adult - Contemporary

It is a great privilege to be part of the Weightless blog tour. This is a book that should be read by high school students and their parents. It highlights not only the damage that can be done by bullying – face to face or online, but also how damaging it can be to sit on the sidelines and say nothing. Enough of the preaching, let’s get onto the story. 

Carolyn Lessing arrives in Adamsville, Alabama during a prep rally, allowing the student body to check her out. She’s pretty, thin and has 1057 friends on Facebook but no relationship status. We watch as Carolyn negotiates the small town friendship politics, finds her place within the school and starts to make friends. Carolyn is smart and being new makes her popular, but she doesn’t seem to know the social rules that govern Adamsville High. We see the ripples when she starts dating one of the school’s star football players, the fallout when they break up, and we see things start to unravel further. We know that a tragedy is coming, but all we can do is watch and wait. 

 While Carolyn is the main character, she is not the narrator, and we never get her direct point of view. The story is told in the first person plural point of view. This may lead some readers to feel removed from the story, but I felt that I was part of the “we”. Carolyn’s story is told at a distance, and the reader can see things and make connections that the narrator does not. “We” work in the office before school, so have access to files “we” probably shouldn’t. “We” are on the swim team so socially are ranked below the cheerleaders, but above the school band. “We” knew the popular girls back in grade school, and know their secrets, knew the boys on the football team before they were hot. 

Carolyn’s story is not an unusual one. A new student falls foul of the popular clique and finds herself subject to bullying, it’s been seen before, but this time we only know what we are told. Authors are often told to show, rather than tell. Here we get quite a lot of telling, but what we’re told isn’t reliable, and the way we are told actually shows us quite a lot more. It is rumour and hearsay and social media posts. Videos taken in a darkened carpark, photos snapped during parties, conversations overheard in toilet cubicles. The hypocrisy of the student body and the town as a whole is revealed in this way, and even though the narrator is removed from it, the reader is able to see Carolyn’s growing despair. It is easy to be angry at the narrator, at the bullies, at the adults who didn’t put the clues together. What’s harder is asking ourselves if we’ve been complicit in this type of behaviour. How many times have we sat back and not commented when someone has spoken ill of someone else? Who have we not defended when they’ve needed it? Who have we allowed to feel isolated and lonely, just by staying quiet? 

 Weightless is powerful, moving and utterly terrifying. As a teacher, I have seen students find themselves in similar situations. As a parent, I am terrified of the power social media and mobile phones hold over, and give to, young people. 

 This book is a must read.

When 15-year-old Carolyn moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the junior class at Adams High School. A good student and natural athlete, she’s immediately welcomed by the school’s cliques. She’s even nominated to the homecoming court and begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a video of Carolyn and Shane making out is sent to everyone, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut, as Brooke and her best friend Gemma try to restore their popularity. Gossip and bullying hound Carolyn, who becomes increasingly private and isolated. When Shane and Brooke—now back together—confront Carolyn in the student parking lot, injuring her, it’s the last attack she can take.

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.

5 Truths and a Lie about Me 
By: Sarah Bannan

 In Adamsville, Alabama, rumour is gospel. It’s the gospel truth. 

 At Adams High, the girls spread the word like they’re apostles on a holy mission, spreading gossip, half-remembered memories, overheard conversations, intercepted texts. 

 In WEIGHTLESS, the narrators spend their days and nights talking. Texting. Tweeting. Messaging. Relaying truths and lies and a million things in between. They’ve known Brooke Moore and Gemma Davies since they were in diapers, have pined for Andrew Wright and Shane Duggan from the time they could put two words together. And they know lots about every one of them – only it’s hard to tell how much they’ve gotten right. Even they have trouble remembering sometimes. 

 When Carolyn Lessing comes to Adamsville, Alabama, she’s a blank slate. She’s beautiful, sophisticated, stylish. She has money and intelligence and talent. She’s the fastest swimmer on the team. But what her peers know about her – and what we know about her - is limited. Fuzzy. As sketchy as can be. Our picture of her is pieced together from a handful of conversations. A half dozen overheard encounters. A few stray texts. An incomplete Facebook profile. 

 As the year progresses, everybody – the narrators, the cheerleaders, the football players, the parents, the teachers, the principal, the Reverend – tries to cobble together a version of this girl. The new girl. Carolyn Lessing. 

 And it’s not clear if they even really want to know the truth – or if they’d rather believe some truths and not others, swallow some lies and then go on and invent some more. The line between truth and fiction is hard to find. And they tell so many lies, to one another and themselves, it gets hard to keep track. 

 Do you remember that game you used to play at slumber parties? 5 Truths and a Lie? It was never an easy game, and in Adamsville, it’d be impossible. But I thought we could try it out on me. To see how good a liar I am. Or not. 

 So…here we go…five truths and a lie… 
1.  I still sleep with a security blanket (I am 36 years of age) 
2. I’ve been a vegetarian since my 16th birthday 
3. I’m allergic to cats and nuts I can’t ride a bike 
4. When I was seven, I told my first grade teacher my biggest fear was….FAILURE 
5. I have lived in Dublin, Ireland longer than I have lived anywhere else

We have a copy of Weightless to give our readers. This giveaway is open to residents of the Australia. You must be 14+ years of age to win. If you're under 18, you must have parental permission to enter. Reading Lark is not responsible for prize delivery; the book will be shipped by the publisher.

The giveaway runs from April 8-15. Winner will be notified via email on April 16.


  1. I'm going to take my guess as no 5 - living in Dublin Ireland longer than having lived anywhere else. Congrats on the release of Weightless, a highly relevant book that sounds like an intriguing read. A great guest post, thank you :-)

    1. Thanks for commenting. I don't know which one is a lie yet, I'm still waiting on the answer :)

  2. I think the lie is number 4. Not sure a seven year old would use the word "failure."

    1. My 7 yr old uses all kinds of words, so it's a possibility!

  3. I like the review. It's written from a teacher's viewpoint. That's what makes it interesting.

  4. I would like to win and read Weightless by Sarah Bannan.

    1. Good luck! Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

  5. Awesome review! I'm not sure which of Sarah's 'five truths' is a lie... but I'm going to guess: '3. I’m allergic to cats and nuts I can’t ride a bike '. This is a complete stab in the dark, they're all very convincing! :P

    1. Thanks Myra, I don't know the answer yet either. I'm looking forward to finding out.

  6. Excellent review. Really made me curious to read the book. You don't read a lot of first person plural narratives.
    I've never been very good at 5 Truths and a Lie, but here goes. I think number 2 is the lie. But knowing me, the lie will probably be my second answer (which I'll not give in case that's also wrong haha).

    1. It's such a good read and I really liked the POV. Good luck!

  7. This does sound like a must read to me. Great review.

    I'm going to say #2 is the lie. I could never be a vegetarian myself.

  8. I'm going with number 2 as a lie.

    The book Weightless does hit the spots which how we reacts to people when we were young and when we are old. Great theme for the story.

  9. Oh yay! I've been looking for the person who had this post on the blog tour! (I was the finale post so I announced the lie.)
    Loved finding your blog btw

    1. Hi Mahalia, thanks for stopping by! :)

  10. This looks quite intriguing! Thank you for sharing!!

  11. This is the first I've heard of Weightless. I definitely want to read it.

  12. Sounds like an interesting read but maybe something I would enjoy a few years back when I loved reading contemporary novels.


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