The Lightness: A Novel by Emily Temple


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.

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One year ago, Olivia’s beloved father left home and never returned. Yearning to make sense of her loss and to escape her overbearing mother—a woman as grounded as her father is mercurial—Olivia runs away and retraces his path to a meditation retreat in the mountains known as the Levitation Center.

Enrolling in their summer program for troubled teens—which she calls “Buddhist Boot Camp for Bad Girls”—Olivia is quickly drawn to a trio of girls, led by the elusive and beautiful Serena, who are determined to transcend their circumstances, by any means necessary. Their goal is to achieve enlightenment—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.

The Lightness: A Novel by Emily Temple
Epilogue BCB