Author: Emily Temple
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Book Description: A stylish, stunningly precise, and suspenseful meditation on adolescent desire, female friendship, and the female body that shimmers with rage, wit, and fierce longing—an audacious, darkly observant, and mordantly funny literary debut for fans of Emma Cline, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Jenny Offill.
One year ago, the person Olivia adores most in the world, her father, left home for a meditation retreat in the mountains and never returned. Yearning to make sense of his shocking departure and to escape her overbearing mother—a woman as grounded as her father is mercurial—Olivia runs away from home and retraces his path to a place known as the Levitation Center.
Once there, she enrolls in their summer program for troubled teens, which Olivia refers to as “Buddhist Boot Camp for Bad Girls”. Soon, she finds herself drawn into the company of a close-knit trio of girls determined to transcend their circumstances, by any means necessary. Led by the elusive and beautiful Serena, and her aloof, secretive acolytes, Janet and Laurel, the girls decide this is the summer they will finally achieve enlightenment—and learn to levitate, to defy the weight of their bodies, to experience ultimate lightness.
But as desire and danger intertwine, and Olivia comes ever closer to discovering what a body—and a girl—is capable of, it becomes increasingly clear that this is an advanced and perilous practice, and there’s a chance not all of them will survive. Set over the course of one fateful summer that unfolds like a fever dream, The Lightness juxtaposes fairy tales with quantum physics, cognitive science with religious fervor, and the passions and obsessions of youth with all of these, to explore concepts as complex as faith and as simple as loving people—even though you don’t, and can’t, know them at all.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars
Mini-Review: Lately I seem to be drawn to stories of cults. I am not sure why, but between this book, reading In the Clearing, and watching the documentary The Vow on HBO, I need to move on some different types of stories, because I am just not enjoying these books.
Olivia is a teenager who attends a meditation camp. She is a practicing Buddhist with her father, which leads her to this program. Olivia’s real reason for attending is to find her father, who never returned back to her after he spent time there. This book quickly goes down a rabbit hole of strangeness, which I just did not enjoy.
This book tried to be too much, and could have been a much simpler story. It delves in and out the cult, nature, science with an emphasis on relationships. I understand what the author was trying to do with this story, unfortunately it just did not work for me.