Friday, June 28, 2019

Book Review: "Something Like Gravity" by Amber Smith

"It's hard to figure out what you're supposed to be when you've never even really known who you were in the first place—that was something I'd realized only recently. Something I didn't think my friends would understand. After all, I looked the same and dressed the same and talked the same as I always had. But I wasn't the same."

Chris and Maia meet for the first time when he almost hits her with his car. Neither one is really paying attention, but both feel some sort of connection. Their next few encounters don't improve much, more because Maia misreads Chris' intentions. Yet life continues to throw their paths together until they simply can't stay away from each other.

Both are nursing some serious wounds. Chris is in North Carolina for the summer, taking a break from his parents and his New York hometown, where he was physically assaulted by several classmates shortly after coming out as transgender. Maia is still reeling from the sudden death of her older sister, and is trying to figure out how to move on, while understanding just what their relationship meant.

"I was starting to understand that there's also a price that comes with being a boy, one that's different from being a girl. Maybe the price is more one of a responsibility—to not only be a decent person, like everyone else, and not only to not turn scary or mean or dangerous, but to never forget."

Little by little they begin to open up to one another (although not fully), and their relationship starts to deepen. However, both are keeping secrets which could topple anything they've built. At the same time, both are dealing with fractured relationships with their parents, too. It's a lot for any teenagers to handle, much less two with so much emotional baggage.

Falling in love often requires taking a leap, a leap of faith and trust. It forces us to be braver than we think we can be, but it also leaves us more vulnerable than we'd ever want to be, yet the payoff can be greater than we'd even hope. In Amber Smith's beautiful new novel Something Like Gravity, two teenagers feel the strong pull of love and attraction yet must battle the opposing forces that threaten to undo them.

I loved this book and thought it was so well-written. Over the last few months I've started reading more books with transgender characters in them and they've really helped me understand how similar and different our experiences are. Smith created characters you root for, even when they annoy you, and I felt that I was viewing the story through a very fragile shell of poignancy and emotion which deepened the beauty of the book.

Sure, some of the plot is predictable, although Smith kept my worries at bay that the plot might veer too far into melodramatic territory a few times. I really enjoyed the parallels between love and gravity, as I never honestly thought about how similar the two can be.

This is the first of Smith's books I've read, but I'm definitely going to read her earlier work. I really was drawn into her storytelling and the love she had for her characters. I always know I enjoyed a book when I want to know what happens after the story ends—perhaps we'll see Maia and Chris again someday.

NetGalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

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