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#Teen Tonic #Book Review of The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

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. (From the book blurb)


My thoughts:

Cal Lewis is a seventeen-year-old aspiring journalist and news reporter. He has been working very hard on building his account and follower base on a social media site. Cal is passionate about his videos with news updates because he believes people do not just want gossip – they want facts and real information that can help them make choices. Cal is also a planner. He has a schedule for his news updates, he knows what he is going to do in summer ( his internship), next year, and how he is going to build his career. All of this comes to a screeching halt when his Dad announces he has just been selected for a NASA program as a potential astronaut on a mission to Mars. Cal’s family are to move to Texas in …a few days. The worst part is that Cal won’t be able to post any more videos as all filming rights are controlled by StarWatch Reality Show that has an exclusive contract with NASA. Once in Texas, Cal meets another astro-family with two perfect teens, one of whom becomes his love interest.

Cal comes across as a bit self-centred, especialy if you consider his interactions with Deb, his best friend/ex-girlfriend who has much more serious problems and is nothing but supportive of Cal. Having said this, there’s so much energy in his character, self-confidence and so much drama! I really liked the social media career angle, and sympathized when he felt his carefully laid-out life plans were thwarted. Of course, his Dad was entitled to making HIS dream of becoming an astronaut come true, but a bit more attention to how the change was going to affect the rest of the family was surely needed.

Cal’s relationship with Leon was a bit too fast, and Leon himself seems to stay out of limelight all the time. The book has the most romantic lines I have read in a very long time, but I would still categorize it under a coming-of-age novel, not romance, because there is only one point of view- Cal’s. Great rep for mental illness – Cal’s Mom’s anxiety and Leon’s burnout and depression. These are important topics that require a lot of sensitivity, and Phil Stamper did a really good job here.

Overall, an original and upbeat coming-of-age novel dealing with topics of family relationships, first love, following one’s dreams, authenticity in journalism and social media and many others.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Bloomsbury YA for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

I want to tell him I’m here, that he can talk to me if he needs to. Or I can sit here, inches from him, listening to him breathe. In, and out. I want him to know how remarkable it is that, of the billions of people in the world, I am the one who’s sitting next to him, under stars and the champaigne’s gaze.

I want him to know the improbability of two people meeting like this. That it’s astounding, no matter how inconsequential it is. Sure, strangers meet all the time. It’s the universe’s way to say we don’t matter. None of this matters.

Our eyes meet. And it’s clear that sometimes, the universe is just wrong.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

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