Cover Image: The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us

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Member Reviews

I wanted to love this so bad but just didn’t. I just couldn’t get invested in the story or the characters and it felt like the story had potential but it just didn’t live up to it or really wasn’t flushed out.
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This was a fun contemporary following a boy who is driven and wants to stick to his plan, and is thrown off course by major life changes beyond his control. This had layers and dimensions in his interpersonal relations, and it is one of those books that makes you want to do your best in life.
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This was one of my favorite reads of this year!  Cal hopes to be a journalist and already has developed a large following on social media.  But this his dad is selected for a high-profile mission to Mars, and Cal and his parents move to Houston so his Dad can prepare for the mission.  The transition is not an easy one for Cal, until he meets Leon, whose mom is also one of the astronauts on the Mars mission.  But as Cal's relationship with Leon deepens, he faces challenges with his parents and with his ambitions for his future career that seem to be on a collision course.

This book is a delight -- and just what I needed during quarantine.  It has turned me into a huge fan of the author.  Highly recommended!
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TW: Death (off-page), hospitization, plane crash, alcohol consumption 

Rep: M/M romance, depression rep prominent character

Actual Rating: 2.5 stars!

I feel so disappointed by this book. I didn't love it, nor did I actually hate it. It's been a meh feeling for me especially because I was hoping I'd like it. I loved Phil Stamper's second novel and I was hoping I'd love this book too. Unfortunately, it probably had been the case of I read this while I was nauseas or it's not the book, it's me kind of thing. 

This book has a cool premise.. NASA is trying to send a team of astronauts to Mars. This comes the day after we have heard the rover had successfully touched down on Mars so that's actually a kind of cool timing. I have always loved space, still do. It was also so cool to see scientists and NASA in such a positive light. Many books I've seen is basically science bad-but the exploration, sending a team to Mars doesn't seem farfetched especially we were at right now. 

Unfortunately, as I mentioned before-I didn't vibe with this book. I found that the romance between Cal and his love interest was too insta-lovey. Hello, they kissed at page 140 and that seems like a little too soon. It didn't even seem they had their romance developed at all. Everything about the romance aspect fell flat for me. 
They had little to no character developed at all, and they just seem really flat. It was really hard for me to care about the characters

This book was hella slow. I was started getting restless at like 150. I felt like something should have happened by now, but nothing had even happen. It was until the final 60 or so pages where it was actually interesting, and I actually cared about it. 

Sadly, this book wasn't for me-but I guess Phil Stamper's books are going to be a hit or miss type of thing for me.
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I listened to this audibly and, for what it was, I think it's a solid 3-star. I always love seeing queer stories for younger audiences and think it's incredibly important. However, the relationship fell sooo flat for me. It was certainly insta-love, there was missed communication all the time, and everything just happened so quickly. Honestly, everything in the book happened so quickly. It felt like a race to the end and I hated that. I didn't like the main character whatsoever. Cal was pretentious and treated the people around him really terribly. I just didn't jive well with that. I cared more about his parents than him. Now there's a story I'd read. Also, the stats on his social platform would make him extremely successful so having him just get an internship with Buzzfeed didn't seem realistic to me. With those numbers, he wouldn't really have to. The overall concept was interesting, but it was just bleh. Good idea, bad execution.
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Two sons of astronauts meet, fall in love, and try to deal with their newfound fame while also dealing with the gravity (lol) of their family situations.

I tried so hard to connect to Cal, but he always came off as that hipster teen who is way cooler than you'll ever be. Leon was a lot more relatable, so that helped. As a whole, The Gravity of Us was a fun read and a great addition to the LGBTQ+ section of our library!
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An excellent contemporary debut. The m/m romance is sweet, but what really shines is the narrative voice and the respect for the power and integrity influencers can have.
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DNF, but heard very good things about this novel. I've read the reviews and summaries, and will definitely recommend it to patrons seeking LGBT YA novels.
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First I  want to say don't get the e-book of this. Alot of parts just don't make sense and I  think its because they are supposed to be written differently.

I  absolutely loved the space aspect of this book. The social media though? Not my favorite. Mixing the two definitely made for a great reading experience especially for teens I  hope it got people actually interested in what NASA is working towards now. Imagine if we could have been going to Mars now if we had kept up our space exploration, 

The romance wasn't very solid in my opinion. They had a fight, well a one sided fight and I  felt that the reasoning behind it was just a bit shallow but then again these are teens we are talking about so of course it could be shallow and not as deep. 

If you are looking for a space themed contemporary then look no further!
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This was a weird one for me. I was looking forward to it, but I just didn't click with the characters or the story. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it.
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I enjoyed reading several aspects of this book! The pacing was wonderful, characters were well drawn, and the reading experience on the whole was delightful.
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I loved everything about this book! From the modern Space Race interpretation to the narrators, the side characters, everything. Taking that feeling of watching America's heroes charter unknown territories and translating it into a modern story is not an easy feat, given the skepticism and seemingly underwhelming capacity of science (we absolutely take science and technology for granted).  Phil did an amazing job with these characters and in bringing that feeling to this story.
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The Gravity of Us is a YA contemporary set around NASA's first human mission to mars and the two sons of said astronauts. We start off with Cal who, out of now where, he has to move Houston. Because his father has been selected to be an astronaut. Leaving behind everything, he is now part of a reality TV show that is filming the NASA program and their families. I was surprised by the role of this and it made me stop and think about rights, what it's like to be in that world. 
The characters are the best part of this book. They are adorable and witty. Their relationship blossoms into a bundle of cuteness. Cal is a social media journalist with over half of a million followers, he uses his power for making a difference. There is a strong theme of how teenagers aren't taken seriously, I found that this is an important thing to be talked about. I believe this story did a great job of showing how hard it can be when you feel like your problems are just being overlooked. I also like how social media played into Cal's life, how it can be a reward but also how it comes with its problems, can be hard too. Mental health is also played a part in these pages, the way shows that you can still have good days while dealing with depression and anxiety, is important because I think people who don't have depression and/or anxiety thinks its just all sad, being down when really it can be a mix. I also like how mental health is handled, that it doesn't just go away, that it's something you have to work at.  
The writing style is wonderful. Phil Stamper skill of making you feel for his characters is my favorite part. I felt along with these characters. 
This is a unique story, I haven't read many books about teens whose parents are in working towards heading to space. I enjoyed the mix of NASA, social media, mental health, and queer romance.
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Once again, I’m finding myself in a position where I’m a little too worn out to write full reviews, but I do have thoughts I want to share on books! To that end, I present you with this mini-review of a cute, if not remarkable, queer YA contemporary (with a splash of romance, a ton of commentary on media, and a hefty dose of outer space).

The Plot, in Short:
Cal, high school student and aspiring journalist, is lowkey sort of famous for his news stories on the app FlashFame, covering everything from national news to local hidden gems in his hometown of NYC. That all goes out the window when Cal’s dad is selected as the 20th and final member of NASA’s latest project, Orpheus V, which will be sending a crew to Mars. Just like that, Cal has to uproot his entire life and move to Texas, where he also finds out that making further FlashFame videos might be in violation of his family’s contract for participating in the project.

Everything sort of sucks–the fakeness and forced-drama imposed on the astronauts, the Texas weather, the general missing his best friend Deb–but there are two bright spots in this new adventure. One is Leon, a very, very cute boy and fellow Astrokid. And the other is the realization that the entire project might be hiding a very big story, one that Cal could be the one to break…

The Good
– Cute gay romance
– Love the inclusion of social media culture
– Hooray space and astronauts and all that fun stuff
– Leon’s sister Kat is adorable and lovable
– The book doesn’t shy away from issues like mental health (Cal’s mom has severe anxiety, Leon has depression) and poverty (Deb’s family literally makes her use her part-time-job paycheck to help pay the bills)
– The depiction of Leon’s depression was so real
– The general reminder that NASA is about the science, not just the celebrity and drama

The Not-So-Good
– Cal has such a savior complex throughout the book, it kind of drove me nuts. He did improve some, but it felt like he was just patting himself on the back for becoming less of a control freak
– Cal’s blunt repetition of how much he wants to fix things for others even when he can’t was pretty heavy-handed
– The book looks like a romance but reads like more of a story about Cal with a small romantic side plot
– The insta-love. It was so bad, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, I love the central couple, but they kind of immediately fell in love without even really knowing each other.
– Though the mental illness components were represented well, I felt like the way Cal dealt with them was…not great. Kind of condescending at times, and again, his whole savior complex was irritating.
– An ending that felt a little too much like “everything was tied up with a neat bow and they lived happily ever after”

All in all, this is a cute book, don’t get me wrong. It just wasn’t quite as impactful as I had hoped. But if you want something quick and fun for Pride, go right ahead–this is a solid read, even if it is unremarkable.
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I enjoyed The Gravity of Us. I thought the story really build, and that was represented in the growth and development with the characters. I think high schoolers will really enjoy all that is addressed in this book. You have identity struggles, nonbinary labels, and growing up. Mental health is also addressed in this story, and I think that is so needed in books today. It was very well done. This book will sell well.
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This was a fine YA mm romance. It wasn't my favorite, however. The main character Cal was a bit annoying and frustrating at times. There wasn't a ton about the actual space mission, mostly stuff about the reality TV show.
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I thought this was a good book. I really enjoyed reading it. I liked the characters and plot of the story. I loved how it brought social media and science together to try and make NASA look cool again in this generation. Cal was a good main character. I liked how he is flawed and how he has this idea that he needs to fix people and situation. Leon was also a great love interest. Can not wait to read more from Phil Stamper.
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Do you ever read a book so good that you’re mad at yourself for not picking it up sooner? This is how I felt after finishing The Gravity of Us. The story follows Cal, a 17-year-old social media journalist whose entire world is turned upside down when his family relocates from NYC to Houston, where his dad is taking part in NASA’s Mars program. The only bright spot for Cal, who misses his city and best friend, is his new crush: fellow Astrokid Leon. If he isn’t there already, put Stamper on your radar because this is a writer to watch. The Gravity of Us is such a strong debut. Stamper has a real gift for capturing the voices of his characters and making them feel completely human (in all of their selfish, vulnerable, complex, beautiful glory). I listened to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Michael Crouch and includes a larger cast for the chapters that include segments from the Shooting Stars tv show. The Gravity of Us is a really lovely YA book that I’d highly recommend if you’re in the need for something comforting to read right now.
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The Gravity of Us was different and I love how the author took a particular interest of his and wove it into a YA contemporary. It makes it a stand out and for a good momentum to always be pushing the story forward. The book had good pacing and I think started off and ended off very nicely. I also think Phil Stamper is a fantastic writer. His sentences flowed together seamlessly and I would love to be able to write like him. I guess I also like how social media is portrayed positively, but I really don't like how older people were dumb in regards to it and didn't see it as important. I don't think that's true.

But while things were always happening, I greatly disliked the main character. Also, the love subplot was too insta-love. It was just the main character thinking he was cute and then immediately that he would do anything for him, even though nothing happened to let me see why their relationship was important or worthwhile. And this is from both of their ends. I have no idea why Leon would like Cal, he didn't really seem to get him at all. Cal only knew he was in the wrong because Leon would tell him to lay off.

I believe the worst character trait that is too common in YA is characters that regard themselves as always carrying everyone else's burden on their back and that they have to fix everyone else's problems. I hate that! These characters say it over and over again, like they want the audience to pity them, and then do very little to show this other than than try to be the big hero in the end. Unfortunately, this book has this big time. Cal becomes crappy to his friends and so utterly selfish. Every time he thought something like, "and then I did something I never do, I put myself first" I wanted to scream.

But I did enjoy the ending of the book, and the audiobook was great, so I give it a 3 stars.
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My expectations weren't that high for this book, and not really for anything in particular.

Let's talk about Calvin. Calvin... now that I think about it is very much like me. He's an obsessive planner. He's that kid you hate because you're floundering with your life while he has the next ten years planned out. So when his dad gets picked as an astronaut for the Mars mission and he has to pack his life up and move to from New York, where all his plans were, to Texas, he's annoyed. Calvin is also pretty selfish, centering his struggle in having to move and having his plans uprooted and ignoring the struggle of his friend back home.

And he GROWS! I feel like it's been a bit since I read a book with such clear character growth. Like, Calvin's point of breaking? That hurt, I was truly rooting for him the whole time.

The romance between Leon and Cal does feel rushed, and the book does acknowledge it (which I'm not sure how I feel about), but there were some real sweet moments that I couldn't help but adore. And I've loved rushed romances before, and the sweet moments made me forgive the quickness of the romance. 

The queer aspect of the romance is also very normalized, which I was happy because it being set in Texas, it could've gone a different direction. Both boys are queer and admit they don't have a label for it and are comfortable with it.

Also, there is mental health rep! Calvin's mom has anxiety which is addressed throughout the book, which I was pleasantly surprised at, because I rarely see parent's in YA books have mental illness. Leon has depression and it wasn't a large point of angst or conflict for the relationship. 

Now, all that being said, the real star of the book and what really got me was the parts about NASA. No spoilers but there's a section focused on the scientists and engineers and astronauts talking about why they love the program and why space exploration is good and I honest to god started tearing up. It's such a hopeful book. The sentiment here just cuts down to humanity's drive to explore, and I just love that.

4 stars. The beginning was kind of rough, but I fell of this book by the halfway point and the last 30% really solidified the rating.
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