The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
What I drank prior: rose sangroa and a frozen moscow mule. Weird combo, good choice.
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.
Drunk Overview: Cal’s dad joins the astronaut program and suddenly a comfortable life with bestie and insta-esque show in NYC -> middle of nowhere Texas and “Star Talk” a reality show around the astronauts for the upcoming Mars mission. Cal tries to figure out how to continue being a journalist, falling in love for the first time, and the pitfalls of fame.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: This book was pretty darn sweet even if I spent large portions of it internally yelling at the maon character for things that are probably in character for a teenager. The choice to make Cal on the older side (I think senior year) was a smart one b/c it really is that funky age when (at times) your mentally and adult but emotionally a child. The romance was cute and Ill talk in a bit about how Leo might be my fav character.
Characters: I feel like Ive talked about Cal enough anf will continue to. So Im going to skip to Leo, the love interest. Im really happy that a young, gay, black man gets a full character and arc. He clearly has some stuff to deal with, but its not for dramatics and his relationship with his own family are *chef’s kiss*. The interesting thing about this book is how much of the focus is on on-screen vs real personalities. That focus allows so many of the characters to show depth in even just two scenes. The parents (dont get much time) are easier to understand once they get on screen. I found the other media personalities to be a little flat/ insert character trait to push the plot forward. But hey, plots gotta move. But this book did a really good job of showing the core of people very quickly. I would alsoblike to mention Cals bestie from New York, who, unfortunately, is mostly there to remind Cal that he’s being a dipshit and theres life outside his drama. Deb deserved better!
Plot: okay, i feel like I covered a lot of it. Cal really does get himself into a lot of trouble, first by continuing to “flashflame” evem though he’s not allowed to, without talking to anyone about it first. Theres a lot of push and pull between traditional media and more modern mediums which is, you know, olaying out in the real world. Back to plot. This book worked best when the world was moving the plot forward rather than Cal moving the plot forward. There are a lot ofnchoices that feel like theyre made because “a teenager who wouldnt stop to think would do this” but I really would have preferred a little bit more self control. (Side note, I dont think you can love someone after, like, a week ofnknowing them. Just a pet peeve). I thought the scenes “fixing” everything were pretty great though.
Writing Style: the book uses a few formats: traditional prose, FlashFlame videos, Star Talk interview transcripts, and I think that helped a lot. Breaking up the sometimes frustrating inner monologue.
World building: fine… it was well done but, there was nothing that really jumped out at me as worthy to comment on.
What to pair it with: strawberry daquiri, the frozen kind. A little immature, a little too sweet at times, but still pretty enjoyable.
Rating: 3.5/5 Shots