Friday, March 9, 2018

Review: Weightless - Kandi Steiner

by Kandi Steiner
Published: June 16, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

I remember the lights.

I remember I wanted to photograph them, the way the red and blue splashed across his cold, emotionless face. But I knew even if my feet could move from the place where they had cemented themselves to the ground and I could run for my camera, I wouldn’t be able to capture that moment.

I had trusted him, I had loved him, and even though my body had changed that summer, he’d made sure to help me hold on to who I was inside, regardless of how the exterior altered.

But then everything changed.

He stole my innocence. He scarred my heart. He took everything I thought I knew about my life and fast-pitched it out the window, shattering the glass that held my world together in the process.

I remember the lights.

The passionate, desperate, hot strikes of red. The harsh, cruel, icy bolts of blue.

They symbolized everything I endured that summer.

And everything I would never face again.

I have been a reading machine lately, so when I finished all of my ARC reads for the week I took the opportunity to finally read a book from Kandi Steiner that I had wanted to read for about two years. Weightless is beloved by my reader friends, touted as one of her best books and perfect for NA/Adult coming-of-age reader fans. That's my type of book, in case you're wondering. So I bought it, it's been sitting on my Kindle for ages calling to me, and yesterday I picked it up and I didn't put it down until I was done. I smiled a lot, I laughed a little, and I cried more than I'd like to admit, it was that enjoyable of a read. I also thought this would be a short review...I lied.

4.5 Stars

“'You’re light. Don’t ever lose that. Don’t let the world weigh you down like them.' He shifted, looking away. 'Like me.'"

Weightless is Natalie's story, an eighteen year-old graduate with little hope or direction for her future after finding herself single and heavier than, what she considers, her prettier classmates. An event pushes her to training sessions with none other than Rhodes, resident bad boy, client charmer, and all around handsome to look at man. The training brings out the Natalie she never knew existed inside herself and it also brings out emotions she didn't think she could feel for anyone but her ex. Natalie and Rhodes are from opposite sides of the small town, the sort of people who don't mix business and pleasure, but neither can resist each other. As the two reveal their deepest secrets to one another and find a comfortable companionship in helping the other be their best self. It's a romance filled with angst though, as Rhodes continues to suffer from the loss of his sister years prior and Natalie's parents try to cover up a dark secret that is increasingly harder to contain.

It felt like my first breath and my last one, too.

I went into Weightless blind, as a big fan of Kandi Steiner and a trusting review reader the frequent 5 stars guaranteed this would be a solid read for me. What I didn't know is just how much I would relate to Nat. Her weight issues, her self confidence struggles, and her desperate hope of being loved for just being herself really resonated with me, both in the present and as I thought of my old high school self. She's a complex character, filled with unassuradeness about her place in the world, but especially about her place amongst her friends and family. I loved her struggles with finding herself and how she overcame it, but I admit, I did have a hard time with her food and dieting. She seemed to almost rely on it too much and in my head I could see it spiraling. Rhodes seemed to be an anchor for Natalie, showing her way of a healthy life, but also giving her perspective on the spoiled life she's lead and the people she shouldn't allow in it. Their romance was a push and pull type of connection, neither willing to give in at times and at others diving headfirst into one another. Rhodes comes with a lot of life experiences and he imparts much of his wisdom on Natalie, revealing both to her and to himself that there's more to her than meets the eye as she takes on his weight as her own.

"I'm afraid I'll ruin you with my darkness."

The story between them progresses into a romance, but for the first half of the book it was definitely more coming-of-age than teenage romance and angst. Just when the romance seems to bloom the book takes another turn, a darker turn than I expected, but was executed very well. There's a bit of mystery to Rhodes and all of that is unveiled right about the same time Nat begins to realize her perfect parents aren't so perfect. It seems like your usual angst, but Kandi takes a serious subject, something we think of as adult that does indeed happen to children, and really made it fit into this story. As the reader we are aware of Rhodes' sister being missing, we are aware that Nat's stepdad has something he's hiding, and we're aware that Nat's mom is seeking perfect. As all of that comes to a head the book takes a serious twist, but Kandi Steiner handled it very well. There's talking, a resolution, and acknowledgement of the weight (get it) that comes from those experiences. There's several impactful life lessons within the book, each of them equally relevant and each focused on separately with the progression of the story.

"This is your weight."

Weightless was a really stunning coming-of-age story and a beautiful example of how talented Kandi Steiner is as a storyteller. There's a depth to this novel that I often find lacking in books that fall between New Adult and Adult, an acknowledgement of the transition one's life takes as they enter adulthood, find first romance, and embark on life without their parents. It's certainly still a contemporary romance, the sort of book you can read just for fun like I did, but also with several lessons from its complex characters. I definitely recommend Weightless, just as I do every other Kandi Steiner book out there.

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