ARC Review: Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Hi all my bookworms!

My name is Chiara and I am a Bookworm.

How are you all?

Time for another review.

This week I am discussing an ARC (advanced reader copy) I was so excited about, and jumped up and down in my chair when I found out that I had been approved for the book of Netgalley.

I am slightly late in posting this, mostly because I didn’t get approved for the book until after it was released.  I think I applied late or … something like that.

Anyhow, I have the book and I read it.

And here is my review.

Title: Gravity of Us The Gravity of Us

Author: Phil Stamper

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Date published: 4th February 2020

Format: e-ARC

Pages: 314

Genre: YA, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Blurb: 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.

I feel very in the middle about this book.

There are many things that I loved.  There are many things that I wanted to love.  There are some things that I didn’t love.

I love space exploration.  As a kid I was fascinated with the space age, with the Apollo missions and all that.  I think part of me still is with my love of the 50s and 60s.  Their clothes, their music.  Not all of it was great and it was a very misogynistic time.  The Apollo missions are a prime example.  The Apollo missions are all about going to the moon, being the first men (again) to land on the moon.  But anyone who knows anything about Greek mythology knows that Artemis, not Apollo was god of the moon.  And that male dominant attitude is brought up in the books.

When Cal and his family move to Texas to work for NASA they move into a house that NASA has bought, and decorated, for them.  They move into a house that is decorated like it is still the 60s, complete with record players.  They move into the same community were the original astronauts lived with their wives and families.  This was time when women were the ‘homemakers’ astronaut’s wives were expected to have a nice community together and show what a real American house should look like, and cry prettily for pictures as their husbands were shot off into space.

This is a different time and as much as their houses show that era, the people inside them don’t.  Stamper shows in his book that we’re not living in the past anymore and that we need to meet today, and the future, head on.

Our main character Cal has half a million followers on FlashFame, a video sharing app, has an internship lined up for Buzzfeed over the summer and know exactly where his future will lead.

Until his dad comes home with the news that he is going to be the next astronaut on the Orpheus missions and they are all moving to Texas.

Cal is Brooklyn born and bred.  To paraphrase an English saying, if you snapped him in half, you’d see Brooklyn written all through.  This Brooklyn boy is not ready to move to Texas.  The only thing that makes it even slightly interesting is the boy that he’s seen in all the coverage of the Astronaut families.  The boy who was a hopeful Olympic gymnast.  The boy that has the sad look in his eyes when he thinks the cameras aren’t looking.

They meet Cal’s first day in Texas when the film crews come to cover their arrival and it is instalove.  Not love at first sight.  Love at first sight is sweeter.  This was instalove.

But I should go back a step.  Cal is given one label when it comes to his sexuality.  Queer.  That is all that is said and that was it.

I’m not a lover of labels.  I don’t think that one part of yourself, be that black, white, gay straight, trans, cis, (I could go on) defines all of you.  I don’t think we need to put ourselves or others into those limiting boxes.  But I do feel the need for discussions between two people.  And nothing is said about Leon’s sexuality.

I have my own ‘label’ and I don’t assume that anyone I meet is gay, is straight, is bi, is ace, is pan, is anything.  I get to know the person and I see whether they might like me, whether I like them and in a story, that anticipation, that will they, won’t they, the growth of the characters, is important.

There was none of that there.  They just dived right in.

I’m aware that this might me a me problem and not a wider reader problem but I would be interested to see what other who have read this think and whether you agree or disagree with me.

But I digress.

I did love the intrigue and unpredictability of the book.  There were quite a few ‘OMG’ moments and ‘what? really?’ moments.  The sort of moments that kept me on the edge of my seat.  I really wasn’t expecting such a page turner from a romance.

I loved the ending as well. I’ve said this a few times recently but I love that the ending wasn’t ‘and they lived happily ever after’ but more ‘and they lived.’  It’s more open.  More real.  Not every life is happily ever after and love that small level of realism in books.

If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought in the comments.  Have I made you want to read it.  I’m pretty sure my review was long and rambling but I couldn’t think of other ways to express myself with this one.  Many discussions were had, with my dad in particular, for this one and I am still in the middle on certain things in the book.


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