Rating: 4.5 of 5
The Lightness is a unique and transformative novel centered on an ambitious coming-of-age saga. Four young women and a seductive gardener attempt transcendence within a hidden meditation center. In the process, author Emily Temple herself transcends a colloquial narrative with uncanny wit and a delving account of the ancient Eastern practice of levitation. Throughout her chapters, we travel alongside the angst of an abandoned teenage girl — into a world which challenges the laws of physics and languor’s within a dubious moral code.
By the novel’s end, the reader is unquestionably entranced. However, a number of stumbling stones along the way may lead one to question the maturity of the writing style. At times, the reader may notice: 1) words mix like water and oil, 2) numerous stylistic repetition, and 3) an indulgent use of “etc.” There is also a persistent jarring sense of the author inserting her own tangential thoughts; these excerpts are initially a distracting flight of fancy. Eventually, however, these snippets subtly form a cohesive parallel to the plot.
Emily Temple is unquestionably and creatively funny. This delightful and unexpected comedy, however, takes a backseat to the poetic weaving of Buddhist principles within her story line. Her novel is laced with ingenious anecdotes and hallmarked with intention. The Lightness is clearly well-thought-out, well-loved and well-researched.
However, the most exemplary aspect of this novel (in my opinion) is the most challenging section an author can deliver: the ending. Amidst a work enshrined in the underpinnings of violence, embarrassingly forthcoming on the chaotic lust of adolescence, and marred in ever-present deception between friends: the reader walks away uplifted. Resurrected. As gradual as the descent, so refreshingly inversed is the instantaneous ascent of the finale.
For these reasons, as well as the unequivocal enjoyment attained reading the novel, I rate The Lightness 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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