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The Gravity of Us

av Phil Stamper

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner
232588,635 (3.62)Ingen/inga
"I'm so starry-eyed for this wise, romantic gem of a book." - Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents' involvement in a NASA mission to Mars. Cal wants to be a journalist, and he's already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston. With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the "perfect American family." And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels--and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.… (mer)
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Visar 5 av 5
Literary Merit: Great
Characterization: Great
Recommended: Yes
Level: High School

I picked up this book hoping for a cute romance related to space, and was not disappointed. The premise is intriguing, the characters are fun and likeable, and the romance (while a tad rushed) is sweet and heartfelt. As the author himself states in his Author's Note, it's so important to represent queer teens on the page, as he grew up without seeing himself represented in media. While this is only one of many books for young LGBT readers, I think it's just as important to see a cute, happy gay romance as it is to see a traumatic, drama-filled one. Overall, I thought it was a really cute book, and I'm glad I decided to give it a shot.

The Gravity of Us focuses on the story of 17-year-old Calvin Lewis, a New York teen with big dreams to become a heavy-hitting journalist. When his father, Calvin Lewis Senior, is selected to be an astronaut on an enormous new expedition to Mars, Cal feels like his life is over. Forced to move from their New York City apartment to a house in Texas, Cal is leaving behind his best friend Deb and a promising internship with Buzzfeed. Worst of all, he's leaving behind his very famous live news stream on an app known as FlashFame, a stream that has helped put him in the public eye and given him a huge following. When he arrives in Texas, however, Cal finds a friend (and potential boyfriend) in Leon Tucker, the son of another famous astronaut. He also learns that there might be a way to continue reaching for his dreams in Texas... while potentially saving NASA in the process.

This book had a lot of great commentary on various subjects, but I think my favorite part was the way it addressed mental illness and therapy. I, much like Cal's mom, suffer from anxiety, and I loved that the book made a big deal of encouraging therapy and working with those who have mental illness instead of berating them for it. In the beginning of the novel, Cal's parents fight constantly because of his mom's anxiety and reluctance to leave New York, and in the end Cal notices that his dad is making a great effort to understand her and meet her halfway. Similarly, Cal and Leon's parents have to learn how to navigate Leon's depression, giving him much-needed time and space (along with therapy) to help him work through his mental illness. As someone with a mental illness, I applaud any YA book that normalizes both it and healthy methods for dealing with it, as there are very few people in this world unaffected by this issue.

Another thing I think this book handled well was the idea of media manipulation a d fake news. Kiara is a really fun character in that she isn't a mustache-twirling villain, but she's not entirely kind and honest either. She starts off acting as an ally to Cal and his FlashFame stream, then turns on him for her own interests in the end. Like a real person, however, Kiara has morals and doesn't always agree with the slimy things her news show StarWatch is doing. For example, she teams up with Cal to expose StarWatch for exploiting the grief of Mara Bannon, the widow of one of the astronauts after a tragic accident. She also appears to relate to Cal, being someone from Brooklyn who felt out of her element in the world of journalism at first. Kiara strikes me as being a warning to Cal about what could happen if he begins to lose integrity, while also giving him hope that she could turn things around and lean into her good side.

Kiara, however, is not the only representation of media manipulation in the story. The show StarWatch, led by a man named Josh Farrow, is also heavy on both exploitation and fake news, manipulating the audience to follow his agenda. In the beginning, StarWatch was a big part of why NASA was able to fund the expedition to Mars, but throughout the book they begin to turn on NASA, making viewers question whether or not they should be funded. StarWatch also chooses to focus on manufactured drama and rivalries rather than the science, which they believe nobody will care about. Cal's honesty and genuine interest in the subject prove them wrong, however, reminding the reader that what you see on TV may not be the entire truth. In our day and age, when all the information in the world is at our fingertips, it's important for everyone to be mindful of where their information is coming from. I thought this was a very important message for teen readers, and appreciated its inclusion here.

While I really enjoyed the family dynamics and the friendships in this book, the romance felt extremely rushed. Don't get me wrong; Cal and Leon are insanely cute, but it feels like they fall for one another almost immediately. Even before Cal had even met Leon for the first time, I could see the author setting up the romance by focusing on how attractive Leon is to Cal. While I must admit that I'm asexual, and therefore have never experienced such intense feelings for someone at first glance, it still felt a little awkward and rushed to me. That being said. Stamper himself is gay, so he likely knows a lot more than I do what it is to fall in love with someone instantly as a gay teen. Because this is an Own Voices novel, I will trust that this experience is realistic, but in my personal opinion it felt much too fast.

Despite the romance feeling forced, I did find myself enjoying a lot of the other relationships between characters. For example, Cal and his friend Deb have an interesting dynamic, being childhood friends who attempted to date before Cal realized he liked boys instead of girls. Throughout the book, Cal tends to forget about Deb's problems while focusing on his own, and realizes in the end that it's important to discuss her life as well. It's an excellent example about how friendships can be unintentionally one-sided, and how even someone with the best of intentions can come across as self-centered and selfish.

Similarly, Cal and his dad have trouble seeing eye to eye, as both are focused on their own dreams without considering the consequences those dreams can have on others. Cal's dad moves them to Texas with little consideration for input from his family, while Cal himself does risky things that potentially break the NASA media contract in order to keep his stream going in Texas. In the end, the two are able to work together, and end up seeing the value in the work the other does. There's also an underlying theme of how celebrity can muddy the waters, as Cal's notoriety takes a lot of the spotlight away from his extremely intelligent and capable dad, making people think that he only got his position because of his social media star of a son. As with the commentary on media, friendships, and mental illness, there is also poignant commentary on the dangers of fame and notoriety, and how it can put strain on our social and emotional relationships.

While I admittedly had a few issues with the pacing of this book, I have to say it was an overall great read. I liked the quirky characters, I appreciated the messages, and it was fun to see the author inject his own massive enthusiasm for NASA and space exploration into a work of fiction. The novel tackles a number of important subjects without ever feeling preachy or insincere, and the characters actually learn and grow from their mistakes throughout the story. While there are many YA stories that highlight LGBT characters, I think it's occasionally refreshing to see two characters instantly fall in love, without the drama or conflict of the book being about their sexuality. LGBT books about coming out and finding acceptance are fantastic, but sometimes it's also cool to just see an LGBT relationship portrayed as a happy, cute relationship with normal relationship issues (i.e deciding on the future as opposed to battling constant homophobia). I would definitely recommend this to fans of realistic romance, especially if you have an interest in space exploration or journalism. There's something for everyone in this cute little gem of a book, and I look forward to seeing what Phil Stamper writes in the future. ( )
  SWONroyal | Dec 31, 2020 |
Meh, couldn’t get into it.
  SamMusher | Nov 1, 2020 |
Hype: "Fans of Adam Silvera will love this book"

ME:
  themoonwholistens | Aug 31, 2020 |
YA contemporary LGBTQ romance situated around a NASA manned mission to Mars and the media circus focused on the families of the participating astronauts. ( )
  deslivres5 | Aug 5, 2020 |
This is a sweet story about Teens falling in love, making mistakes and figuring shit out. One of the things that makes this book so great, is that Stamper has such a great grasp on the age of social media (for lack of a better way to put it).

Cal is living in NY when the book begins. He’s rockin’ the social media world with his guerilla journalism and planning his future. I love that Cal is a planner! Then everything changes when his Dad is accepted into the Astronaut program and the entire family is uprooted and moved in a weekend. A move to Texas means leaving his best friend, Deb and his newly acquired internship at Buzzfeed.

When Cal meets one of the other astrokids, Leon … things change. The two connect immediately and it’s not long before Leon reveals that he’s dealing with depression. One of the things I loved about this story was the way that Stamper lets Leon explain his depression. He’s clear that he doesn’t need to “be fixed” and Cal immediately begins the journey of learning how to meet Leon where he’s at rather than trying to fix things.

The relationship between Leon and Cal isn’t without its speed bumps, but it’s sweet and hopeful and I enjoyed it immensely. As much as Cal enjoys being in front of the lens, Leon is stifled by it and there is a lot of push and pull as these two try to find the sweet spot where they can both be happy being themselves.

Cal also becomes bogged down in the world of being onscreen on a reality show. As he navigates the complex road of blossoming celebrity, he gets caught in traps, sideswiped and is left wondering if everything will crumble around him. But, Cal has heart and determination and the courage to keep trying to do what’s right and hope for change. That is a message we can all use in this day and age.

This book is for people whose heart and imagination are big enough that they are still trying to change the world. You don’t have to be in NASA to reach for the stars. Stamper handles this young relationship with care and humor and it’s a joy to have read about it. ( )
  KinzieThings | Jun 16, 2020 |
Visar 5 av 5
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"I'm so starry-eyed for this wise, romantic gem of a book." - Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents' involvement in a NASA mission to Mars. Cal wants to be a journalist, and he's already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston. With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the "perfect American family." And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels--and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

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