The Lightness

Morrow. Jun. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780062905321. $26.99. F
DEBUT Olivia’s childhood was typical until her father became a Buddhist, which eventually caused her parents’ marriage to fail. After they separate, Olivia’s father disappears and her mother begins to beat her. With a stolen credit card, Olivia runs away to the Levitation Center, a Buddhist retreat, where her father had previously studied, hoping to find him or to discover where he has gone. Once there, she is drawn into a group of girls who are veterans at the center, having come for multiple summers. Group leader Serena has special privileges, as do those she “selects” as her cohort; she is obsessed with learning how to levitate. Midnight meetings, starvation diets, alcohol, and forced fainting culminate in a cliff-side experiment that cannot end well.
VERDICT Temple weaves Buddhist practice, rumor, philosophy, and teenage sexual longing into a story that is both deep and compelling. Her characters are complicated and conflicted, immersed in the throes of teenage angst and hormones. Any reader of general fiction would enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 12/2/19.]

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