I was gifted an advance copy of this book for free from Bloomsbury. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: The Gravity of Us
AUTHOR: Phil Stamper
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
PUBLICATION DATE: February 4, 2020
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As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.
Setting the Scene:
10 Word Summary of Review
Killed by secondhand embarrassment, revived by comedic gold and reality.
Mood Before Reading
Kind of in a reading slump, kind of not. Mostly just bored.
Would I Recommend This Book?
There’s quite a bit to like about The Gravity of Us, but I’ll get into them later. First, up are the aspects I didn’t particularly enjoy.
YIKES, I had major secondhand embarrassment overload while reading The Gravity of Us. Though, to be fair, I’ve never been good at handling second degree embarrassment and am known to be extra sensitive about it. It got so bad that I had to take a couple of reading breaks to recover from all the embarrassment I was getting, courtesy of Cal, the main character. The reading breaks prevented me from becoming fully invested in the story until around the 75% mark when the embarrassment eased up.
Love-Hate Relationship with Cal
I have quite a complicated relationship with Cal. He’s a complex character whom I related a lot to, and he’s far from the perfect teenage boy, which actually makes me like him more as a character. But he’s also the source of like 99% of the secondhand embarrassment I had to suffer through. And as dumb as it might sound, secondhand embarrassment really killed me.
For a contemporary novel with some science-y elements, The Gravity of Us was rooted in reality a lot deeper than I initially assumed. I absolutely loved all the modern references the novel makes, whether it be the power of social media or just increased mental health awareness. It grounded the novel and made the characters more relatable as they experience a few unrelatable lifestyles (not everyone can be famous for social media, just saying).
I will say, all the relatable elements kind of makes the story feel a little, I don’t know, messy? All over the place? Sometimes those elements felt a little unnecessary. But all in all, they really added to the story. And hey, real-life can be pretty messy.
Reasons to Smile
Despite all the secondhand embarrassment, The Gravity of Us gave me a lot of reasons to grin. It was charming and had me going “awwwwwww” so many times. But what really got me to grin were all the bits of comedic gold sprinkled throughout the book. The humor is what really made all the embarrassment bearable.
The Gravity of Us is a cute story full of realistic characters and modern mentions, as well as comedic gold and secondhand embarrassment.