The Lightest Object in the Universe

If the grid went down, how would you find someone on the other side of the country? How would you find hope?

After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history who sees history bearing out its lessons all around him, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell hard for during a chance visit to his school. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be delivered from hardship if they can find their way to the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, who is broadcasting on all the airwaves countrywide. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Beatrix and her neighbors turn to one another for food, water, and solace, and begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could, in fact, be a promising beginning.

But between Beatrix and Carson lie 3,000 miles. With no internet or phone or postal service, can they find their way back to each other, and what will be left of their world when they do? The answers may lie with fifteen-year-old Rosie Santos, who travels reluctantly with her grandmother to Jonathan Blue, finding her voice and making choices that could ultimately decide the fate of the cross-country lovers.

The Lightest Object in the Universe is a story about reliance and adaptation, a testament to the power of community and a chronicle of moving on after catastrophic loss, illustrating that even in the worst of times, our best traits, borne of necessity, can begin to emerge.

Read an excerpt.

Read an essay about why I wrote the book.

July 9, 2019 Algonquin Books



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Bookseller Praise

“Instead of focusing on what is dark and terrifying like most dystopian novels, love lights the way in The Lightest Object in the Universe. Following a cataclysmic event, Beatrix is working with her neighbors to rebuild their community, while former school principal Carson travels across the country on foot to reach the woman he knows is his soul mate. Their individual stories are trying yet hopeful and celebrate the best parts of humanity. Highly recommended for book clubs and fans of dystopian literature.”

-Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

“What a pleasure to read a hopeful post-apocalyptic novel that demonstrates that love still matters and that new communities can form by taking the best of the knowledge that we have collected and putting it together to start to rebuild society in a thoughtful way. With both head and heart, The Lightest Object in the Universe, is a story that will stick with you.”

-Jessica Osborne, E. Shaver, Bookseller, Savannah, GA

The Lightest Object in the Universe is a hopeful, heartbreaking post-apocalyptic novel set in a world where half the population has been killed by a widespread flu and electricity and running water are a thing of the past. Mini societies and gangs have formed in this new America, and in the center of the country, the leader of a large, mysterious cult takes to the radio to call his followers to join him. Amid the chaos, two lovers separated by the continent try to find each other and make a new life in the darkness. This was a great novel about building community from nothing, fighting the odds for people you love, and the power of storytelling to overcome the darkness. It’s a perfect book for fans of Station Eleven and anyone who finds the idea of uplifting post-apocalyptic novels a fascinating concept.”

-Elissa Sweet, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

“Kimi Eisele has crafted a ‘post’ apocalyptic novel without the post. The Lightest Object in the Universe reads scarily like a current affairs masterpiece that will make you lose sleep with a stark reality of what may come in a few short years. Yet love abides in this yarn not to miss. A masterful debut.”

-Andy Nettell, Back of Beyond Books, Moab, UT

“Nice debut fiction. I loved the near future setting of regular folk trying to cope. It made me take a look at my own life to re-evaluate how lightly I’m living on this world and how I can do better. I hope the author plans a follow-up, I’d love to know how her characters fare as they start to run out of more pre-apocalypse products.”

–Tracey Trudeau, Powell’s Books

“Its a love story, but not in the way you’re thinking. The Lightest Object in the Universe is a love story between despair and hope, darkness and light, the end of all things and the beginning of all things. It is uplifting and inspiring, cautionary and frustrated, a true exploration of duality and a shining beacon in a dark world.”

–Holly Roberts Out West Books, Grand Junction, CO

The Lightest Object in the Universe keeps getting better and better with every page. It’s got that Station Eleven vibe, but I kept thinking of Stephen King’s The Stand. I don’t know if it’s my romantic’s heart dying to know whether Beatrix and Carson find each other, or the plot, or just how many layers got added as it went on, but once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down.”

–Aaron Curtis, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL

In fiction, anything is possible. Follow Carson Waller’s journey west on Instagram. #CarsonWaller

Alone now, Carson stood at railroad tracks, which reached west into an apparent infinity … He looped his wrists through the straps of his pack and lifted it a few feet off the ground, testing its weight. Easily sixty pounds. He’d been an avid backpacker in this twenties … back when he’d believed in John Muir’s adage that the hope of the world lay in wilderness. Maybe it still did. He hosted the pack onto his back and stepped onto the tracks.

The beginning. February 13.
The beginning. February 13.
Vintage postcard. This feat of engineering. This landscape. This fortune. I hold it. Onward.
Vintage postcard. This feat of engineering. This landscape. This fortune. I hold it. Onward.
I am like a crow looking for the shortest route. I survived day one. I am green and damp. Even my bones have emotions. I hope I have not made a mistake.
I am like a crow looking for the shortest route. I survived day one. I am green and damp. Even my bones have emotions. I hope I have not made a mistake.
This color saves me. Butter.
This color saves me. Butter.