Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favorite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.
My choice for this week is: Weightless by Sarah Bannan
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.
I read this book a couple of years ago. It was a powerful read. I think this might be the first book I’ve read that’s written in first person plural. While it was very different at first, it ended up working really well for the story.
New girl, Carolyn has just moved to a small town in Alabama, where gossip runs rampant, especially in High school. At first 15-year-old, Carolyn fits in easily, making friends with the cheerleaders and dating High School senior Shane, the star of the football team. She’s even nominated for homecoming court. Most of the students are enamored with her, her beauty, her wealth. She seems to have it all. However, it’s not long before things start to unravel. First she gains a bitter rival in Brooke, her new boyfriends ex-girlfriend. Then someone takes a video of Carolyn and Shane making out and she’s soon referred to by many as the “school slut”.
Things continue to spiral downward for Carolyn, and many watch as the bullying, both online and in real life, gets worse. Now this is the bible belt. Where the captain of the football team (Shane) bows his head and asks everyone to pray before the big game. Everyone attends church on Sunday. Where the kids quote bible verses on their social media pages. But unfortunately that’s not all they’re posting.
I read an article where the author mentioned that “Weightless” is loosely based on a 2010 news story. When I read that, I was tempted to search and see what I could find out. However, I wanted to read what happened in the book first. After I finished the book I did search, it is a tragic story. Both the book and the real story. And it’s not even like this is an isolated event. Not even close. This is going on EVERYWHERE. Why? Why do our children’s High Schools end up as battlegrounds? Where they have to watch every thing they do because it can end up being posted for the WORLD to see? I can’t even imagine being a teenager now. You do something silly and it’s caught on camera. You trip and fall and instead of anyone helping people are taking video or pictures. When I was young if someone made out or “hooked up” with someone it was gossiped about but NOW? Now they have to worry that someone is taking a video of them and can show it to everyone in school AND everyone online!
That’s why books like this are important. If it can help someone to feel a little less alone. Or if it can help someone realize that they don’t have to sit back and watch, or worse join in the bullying. If they realize that what they post online can not just hurt someone but destroy someone’s life.
“Weightless” is Sarah Bannan’s first novel. She also grew up in a small town. So she’s maintained that a lot of the events (including things like homecoming, float-making and the balloon festival) were things that did happen and were a huge part of the lives of high school students. I not only loved Sarah’s writing but also how she broke up the narration with newspaper articles, meeting minutes, Facebook posts, letters etc. The author wanted people to “feel like they were eavesdropping on a conversation that they maybe weren’t meant to hear” and I absolutely felt that way. This book was so emotional and intense, but I’m really glad that I read it. Highly recommended!