Friday, January 24, 2020

Book review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Book Summary 
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.

Flo's Review
I really enjoyed this one. Obviously, it's a cute love story and those are my jam. But there's so much more to it than that. I'll get back to the romance, but I want to discuss the setting first.

What a unique and interesting setting! I really enjoyed learning so much about NASA and space exploration back in the '60s. Either Phil Stamper is a space fan himself, or he did a great job with his research. (Or maybe both.) He did so well showing the reader what a truly exciting and magical time it was. But there was some darkness underneath the shiny surface, as with most things. And he showed us that darkness, too. Then, with that as his base, he showed us what modern society might do in the same situation, and the darkness underneath that. 

Okay, now back to the romance :). Cal, a fixer type personality, falls in love with Leon, a young man who is discovering himself, struggling a little bit, and finding his way. It's almost like a, "Go figure!" type situation. But I loved how Stamper both said and showed that it's not that anybody needs anybody else to fix them. I jotted down this quote from Cal's mom:

"Don't aim to fix people. Fixing seems so permanent, so absolute. Like there's no room for error. Aim to make things better."

Several of the characters in the book have probably been described as "broken," so this quote is a good way to describe many of the people Cal is close to, as well  as a beautiful summation of Cal's arc throughout the book.

The Gravity of Us publishes February 4, 2020 from Bloomsbury YA. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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