Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weightless - A Shout Out and Excerpt

Idgie Says:
I feel these types of books are important to have out there - to open all of our eyes to the fact that sometimes teen angst is serious and that bullying is a real threat to the children. Teenagers are still young people, but in large enough bodies with skills to really harm each other, physically and emotionally. 

I have not only seen my older child's personality go through a huge change during these years, when life was suddenly not so golden, but he has lost a friend to what became overwhelming life pressure for him.  Yes, this may be a novel, but it's based on a very serious issue.

On June 30 St. Martin’s Press will release Weightless, a novel that tells the story of the new student at a small Alabama high school and her downfall from golden girl to social outcast, orchestrated by the school’s original “it” crowd. Though I know this description doesn’t make Weightless sound like the first book of its kind, I assure you that this is not a typical high school bullying story.

So many aspects of Weightless make it unique to other high school-centered novels, from the way Bannan hauntingly writes in the first-person plural point of view, to her inclusion of snippets from the characters’ lives like Facebook posts, newspaper articles, letters from teachers, and graded essays. The speakers tell Carolyn Lessing’s story in the past tense, so readers are never quite sure from what age they are looking back on the events.

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.


Chapter 1 Excerpt

Weightless, by Sarah Bannan


They came out in groups of three, wearing matching shorts and T-shirts, their hair tied back with orange and black ribbons. Their eyes were wide and they yelled and clapped and turned, precisely, rehearsed. They smiled and their lipstick was pink and smooth, their teeth white and perfect. They sparkled.

We sat in the bleachers, towels underneath our legs, trying not to burn our skin on the metal. We wore our Nicole Richie sunglasses and our Auburn and Alabama baseball caps and our Abercrombie tank tops and shorts. The scoreboard on the left of the field displayed the temperature—97 degreesand the Adamsville morning news said that the heat index made it closer to 105. This is something we had learned to get used to, to air so hot and sticky that you felt like you were moving through liquid, to summers so hot you moved as little as humanly possible, and even then, only to get into air-conditioned air. The temperature flashed away and the time appeared—5.24 P.M. The sun would set in two, maybe three hours, but the sky was already turning a deeper orange; some clouds gave a little shelter, softening the glare. We sat and we let the heat do what it had to; sweat collected underneath our knees, between our legs, on the backs of our necks.

Three more moved to the field, all spirit fingers and toe touches and back handsprings. Thin, tanned and golden: they were smiling and they did not sweat. They looked fresh and impossibly clean and their mascara didn’t run and their foundation didn’t melt and their hair didn’t frizz. We clapped and we cheered and we watched and we waited. The marching band played in the bleachers across from us: brass, drums, Adams Highs fight song. We sang along to the parts we knew, we screamed during the parts we didn’t. And it always ended the same way:


The pep rally would have been indoors, would have taken place in the gym on the basketball court, like always, like we were used to, only a bunch of seniors had vandalized the walls the day after graduation, and they hadn’t turned up to do their punishment, to remove their spray paint with paint thinner and methyl chloride: the administration couldn’t do a fucking thing now, until
the day before the school year began. But Mr. Overton refused to give in, refused to have the janitors paint over it. So, here we were, a week before that, a gym full of expletives or some kind of soft core porno crap or something. Our parents had been told that the whole school was being fumigated for asbestos, but we knew better. We knew the real story. We’d heard it from Taylor Lyon, and she’d told everybody, and eventually, it was something that everybody knew. Or everybody who was anybody.

We watched the girls run to the side of the track, but Taylor Lyon stayed in the center and we watched her cheer. All on her own. The faculty sponsors sat in the front row—Miss Simpson, Mr. Ferris, Coach Coxand we watched them watch her, watch her as she jumped and clapped
and touched her toes and yelled. She yelled so much louder than you could imagine, a deep voice from an almost invisible body:

Jam with us! You’ve got to, got to, got to jam with us! Go AHS!”

Taylor had hair that was just a little red—mostly brown, but with fiery glintsand when the sun hit it, the little glints looked supershiny, like something out of a Crayola box. When we were in kindergarten, Mrs. Cornish picked her for everything: to be Snow White in our end-of-year production, to be the line leader, to be the Pilgrim who said grace at Thanksgiving. Mrs. Cornish loved Taylor, and said her red hair was her crowning glory.” And when she said that, or when she picked Taylor for another honor, for another role, Taylors face would burn deep, a red that looked like it stung her cheeks, like it ran through her whole body. It was strange to watch her now, and we wondered if she thought it was strange too, how much she had changed.

 The heat was still unbearable, and we took out bottles of Gatorade and tried to focus on Taylor as she did her back handsprings, as she tumbled across the track. She came back to the center again, gave us spirit fingers and a smile, picked up her pom-poms, and she ran to the side. Her solo was over.