The Lightness

Emily Temple. Morrow, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-290532-1
Temple’s engrossing debut, by turns smart thriller and nuanced coming-of-age story, is set in a high-altitude spiritual retreat known as the Levitation Center, rumored to occupy the only American land where levitation is possible. Olivia Ellis is 15 when her long-unreliable Buddhist father, John, who separated from her mother several years before, disappears from her life after attending a Center retreat. The following summer, Olivia signs up for the retreat’s residential program for teenage girls, hoping to find some clues as to John’s whereabouts. When the enigmatic resident Serena, whose friends Janet and Laurel sneak out nightly to visit her private tent on the mountainside, invites Olivia to join their group and announces that they will learn to levitate, Olivia is eager to belong and to master her father’s religion. Serena plies the girls with alcohol and coaxes guidance from Luke, the Center’s seductive young gardener, who she says has levitated before. By the time Olivia begins doubting Serena’s motives for encouraging dangerous methods, such as fasting and choking, events are spiraling beyond her control. While the frequent asides on fairy tales, etymology, and various intellectual concepts can feel distracting and distancing, the lush, intelligent prose perfectly captures the narrator’s adolescent yearning. Temple’s exploration of the power young women have over each other will appeal to fans of Susan Choi and Emma Cline. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/01/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-290534-5
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