Book Review: Weightless by Sarah Bannan

May 6, 2015 Book review 12 ★★★★★

The words that sprang to mind when I finished this book was devastatingly brilliant.  It’s a must-read even if will make you hate the direction that society seems to heading in.  So many of the characters are shallow and empty and will make you ragey.  But it’s an important book that tackles a difficult topic in a very readable, attention-grabbing way.

Book Review: Weightless by Sarah BannanWeightless by Sarah Bannan
Published by Bloomsbury UK on 2015-03
Genres: Bullying, Emotions & Feelings, Realistic Fiction, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

Adamsville wasn't a place that people came to. It was a place you were from, where you were born, where you were raised, where you stayed. Before Carolyn Lessing arrived, nothing much had ever happened in Adamsville, Alabama.

Each week, at dinner tables and in the high school assembly, everyone would pray for the football team to win. Each year, the Adams High hotlist would be updated, and girls would rise and fall within its ranks. Each day, everyone lived by the unwritten rules that cheerleaders did not hang out with the swim team, seniors did not date freshmen and the blistering heat was something that should never be remarked upon.

But then the new girl came. All Carolyn's social media could reveal was that she had moved from New Jersey, she had 1075 friends - and she didn't have a relationship status. In beach photos with boys who looked like Abercrombie models she seemed beautiful, but in real life she was so much more. She was perfect. This was all before the camera crews arrived, before it became impossible to see where rumour ended and truth began, and before the Annual Adamsville Balloon Festival, when someone swore they saw the captain of the football team with his arm around Carolyn, and cracks began to appear in the dry earth.

First line of 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.”

My Thoughts on Weightless by Sarah Bannan:

The story is told from the point of view of a ‘we’ narrator which is a group of girls on the swim team.  This plural narrator is very effective at highlighting the group sheep like mentality of the girls, they just follow along and bleat agreement with whatever popular crowd deems important.

And I keep thinking their thoughts are weightless; full of froth and insubstantial nonsense.  Just to give you an example of the kind of immaterial things I’m talking about, they spend longer washing their hands when in the company of each other, long enough so the others will think they are clean but not so long that they are thought OCD.  And every teeny tiny decision in their lives is over thought to this extreme, all that matters is what others think of them.

So yes I thought their ideas were weightless.  But then we get further into the book and I realise that all these empty, shallow thoughts do add up to something heavy.  They spend so long dwelling on nothing and ignoring all the horrible things around them that it becomes ugly.  They ignore the bullies as they don’t want to draw attention to themselves and their lack of standing up to be counted turns them into bullies in my eyes too.

The ‘we’ narrator is also the most unreliable narrator ever.  All these girls care about is appearance and looking good to the popular crowd.  So even where they should stand up and take the blame for inaction, they play it down in the narration saying it probably wouldn’t have made any difference.  Which is so frustrating to read about but so horribly, horribly realistic.

We never get the full story, we have to piece it together for ourselves and read between the lines and take off the gloss.  Which makes this a challenging and engrossing read.  There is also a great format to the book as it includes Facebook statuses, newspaper articles, interviews and it just highlights what a huge role social media has in modern bullying.

Overall I wouldn’t say this is an enjoyable read as it deals with a dark subject but it is thoroughly engrossing and it absorbed my attention one hundred percent until I had finished it.  And then it left me depressed as hell!  But just because it’s not pretty doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading.  On the contrary that is exactly why you should read it.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: five-stars


Who should read Weightless by Sarah Banna

I’d highly recommend this one to all those who enjoy contemporary YA as it deals with an important topic.  And even if you don’t read contemporary YA I’d still recommend it to you for exactly the same reason.  Fans of books such as Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill and Tease by Amanda Maciel should also enjoy.




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12 Responses to “Book Review: Weightless by Sarah Bannan”

  1. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I’ve seen the cover though I’ve never really looked at it. In fact I thought the curser on the girl’s lip was a lip ring! The dark side of social media is so very scary and something I’ve worried about quite a bit with my kids as things get more and more untrackable. I’m always a little worried when a book is set in Alabama because so frequently we’re portrayed as all being ignorant racist rednecks which makes me a little touchy but it sounds like there’s no real issue with that here. I do want to read this one but it doesn’t sound like beach reading!
    Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…Killer Weeds – Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

    • trish

      OK, I didn’t mention the setting a lot as it’s not one I’m overly familiar with. HOWEVER the community is portrayed as very religious and very sports focused (to the exclusion of a lot of other things) so if I was from there I would not be overly happy.
      I can see why that gets under your skin as everytime I come across an Irish person in a book portrayed as a drunk and a fighter, I get annoyed too.

  2. R_Hunt @ View From My Home

    I didn’t know the background for this one until you reviewed it. It sounds like a really engrossing read, but not a pretty one.

    I’m not sure if I could handle it because at one time or another, all my kids were bullied in middle school/high school and it is devastating for kids nowadays, now that we have the “sheep mentality” on social media. One time my youngest was even being called vulgar names by girls she didn’t even know, who were friends of friends of…you get the idea, all because one girl thought she was hitting on her boyfriend, geez!

    Thanks for a great review, though!
    R_Hunt @ View From My Home recently posted…Giveaway Winner!

    • trish

      Unfortunately that sounds a lot like the theme for this book. It is an eye opener of a book but when you already have your eyes opened through personal experience then I can see that it would bring back bad memories. I understand that the author was bullied herself and I think that came across in her writing as it felt very authentic. Uncomfortably so.

    • trish

      I would recommend it Megan, it’s not a fun read (bullying never is) but it’s a great one for making you think.

  3. Wattle

    I got this book this week, so I’m glad to see someone else reviewing it 🙂 it sure sounds like an interesting read, I didn’t know it had a ‘we’ narration, I’m curious about that!
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #25

    • trish

      I’ll be looking forward to your review on it! It was an all round winner for me even though it made me feel very uncomfortable while reading it.

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