Cover Image: The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us

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Member Reviews

A short excerpt from the linked review:

Stamper doesn’t make it easy for his characters or for NASA. He has done a really good job making a somewhat familiar world like the suburbs new with its stylized reality TV sheen coupled with at least one Tex-Mex dinner off-screen and giant margaritas every native Texan will recognize. He looks at relationships and families just as much as he looks at the romance between his main protagonists.

 Stamper’s characters are not punished for their queerness but valued for their gifts. Cal and Leon each offer the reader something that they are able to take with them. They may make us all want to stay in Texas for a while instead of jetting back to the fast-paced life of New York City.
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I ended up reading this from my library as the net galley approval came too late for me to download it, but I really enjoyed it! For sure, this isn't the lightest book, but it was a really touching story that everyone could learn from.
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Cal has everything he ever wanted. He’s famous on FlashFame for his raw and real journalism, has the best friend someone could ever want, and a lucrative Buzzfeed internship this summer. So what if sometimes his parents fight so much he has to turn to his cassette collection for a reprieve. When his parents tell him they’re moving from New York to Texas for his Dad’s new job at NASA in two days, Carl’s entire world comes collapsing down around him. 
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I really enjoyed the setting and premise of this lead up to space exploration, but I really struggled with connecting to the main character. I just felt he was so unlikable and selfish that it took away from my enjoyment of the story. I also had issues with the E-ARC of this because at times the formatting would be all messed up and paragraphs would be completely out of place with information missing, which REALLY took me out of the enjoyment of the book.
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Title provided via Netgalley for an honest review.

My overall opinion is average on this title. It was a good story, cute in some places, annoying in others as is the norm with teenage characters. I appreciate the queerness of this story, but it just wasn't all that different, or intriguing. It was very much your normal YA queermance story. The formatting for the ebook was definitely rough on the eyes too.
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I really enjoyed the fast pace of this book.  Though the characters were “celebrities” and different from normal people, it was still quite easy to connect with them and their struggles.  The main character, Cal, was flawed and real, and I appreciated watching him struggle in his relationships like so many of us do.  I think many teens I work with will enjoy this title, and I look forward to recommending it to them.
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Cal has few friends in real life, but a huge following for his amateur reporting and vlogging. His is crushed when he finds out that his family is moving from Brooklyn to Texas for his father to have a chance at being an astronaut on the first Mars mission. Although he is adapting and making friends, the toxic reality TV coverage threatens their privacy and possibly the whole mission.

I was not grabbed by this book in the way that I had hoped. I liked Cal’s character, and his dedication to unbiased reporting. That was an interesting plot point and a good message to teen readers. I found the space travel premise a little unrealistic, and it seemed to downplay the training of the astronauts and the importance of such a mission. The insta-love between Cal and Leon ruined the romance for me. I think building their friendship and characters first would have helped. There is good representation of mental illness here, as Leon struggles to explain his feelings of depression to Cal. While it is overall a sweet queer romance with an interesting setting, I did not really connect with the plot or characters.

Thank you to NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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2.5/5 Stars. 

This book was a rollercoaster when it came to my feelings, but in the end I ended up smack dab in the middle. 

Let’s start off by talking about the characters. For the most part, I enjoyed all of the side characters. I never truly had an issue with anyone... anyone other than our main character, Cal. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t completely hate Cal, but MAN was he irritating at points. I feel he was super selfish, always shrugging off anyone else and only thinking about himself. He is a teen boy, and because of that I give a little bit of leniency, but even then I was shaking my head at him A LOT. On the other end of things, so much responsibility was thrown on him (partially because he put it there), so he seemed very mature for his age. 

I really did enjoy the romance in here, specifically loving the love interest, Leon. I really enjoyed Cals best friend, Deb, as well. The communication between Deb and Cal wasn’t completely healthy, but it was touched on and they are teenagers in the end. 

When it comes to the plot, I was very eh. I was hoping to get more about how the families were portrayed on the reality show that is such a big part of the book, but I don’t think we ever truly got that until the last 25%. I did enjoy the behind the scenes a lot though, so that part of the story was interesting enough. 

The resolution was nice, and the ending was cute, so in the end I feel right in the middle.
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How could I not read a love story set in the shadows of an exciting space program? This book is super easy to get into, the whole social media angle that Cal shows is really pitch perfect for a teen audience--and for any audience in 2020. Cal's experience moving to Texas and figuring out his future plans is definitely relatable. And as a cassette tape lover, I loved that piece of it too.

It takes a little longer than I would hope to get some extra backstory on Cal and his family. And the backstory and the organic development of the love story are a little thin. I think this book could have been a little longer and given us more details, because I think these characters are fun to be with but may not stick with me for long.
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This was a great book from start to finish. I'm disappointed in myself that it took me so long to finish. I appreciate Phil Stamper's take on a queer love story. Reading a book about two people who have essentially already "come out" and "found" themselves put this novel in a category that few books are in since the "coming out" has already occurred and allowed for a different type of story to emerge. 

I also really enjoyed how the love story aspect of the book wasn't necessarily the main focus. Phil Stamper did a marvelous job at intertwining a love story into a story that could have held its ground all alone. Space travel alone is just a fascinating topic and this book handles it lovely. 

I look forward to seeing what this author has in store for the future. More romance? More space? Either way,  I anticipate great adventures and eager await his next project.
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I enjoyed this book for what it was; a YA novel that explores social media and teenage love. It read easily enough and the story was easy to follow. I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would’ve liked and it went at a slower pace than I prefer but overall, well done.
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I've heard such good things about this book, and I wish I could say I loved it. I 'liked' it. The first 20 percent felt like a ton happened, but also nothing happened. There was a lot of talk about space that seemed unnecessary. However, the love story is adorable and kind of makes up for the parts that feel random and don't make a ton of sense. It's not a bad book, but I don't think it's the right book for me. I don't regret reading it, but the writing felt like an adult trying way too hard to sound like a teenager. 

The cover is really cute though, I love the aesthetic.
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While this was definitely unlike any other book I've read, I had a very difficult time relating to our main character, Cal, which impeded my enjoyment of the story. I found him self-centered and didn't think he showed any growth in that area, making it hard for me to care about his problems. There were a couple things he did to people who were supposed to be closest to him, and I didn't feel that he made a big enough effort to show his remorse. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get past my dislike of the MC to fully enjoy this story.

My thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the eARC.
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Everything I Loved:

* Space Talk – The Gravity Of Us is obviously a space centered book and I loved it so, so much.

* Reality TV – The premise is so unique to me because it combines a fictional NASA mission and reality tv. If you like reality tv, this is seriously the book for you. There’s also the paparazzi to deal with given this isn’t just any group of people, they’re all competing to go to Mars. It’s very high-profile. I kind of wish we had seen more going on with the paparazzi but it was still good. There was a lot of gossip going on though and I loved it.

* Audiobook – The Gravity Of Us has as full cast and it was so amazing when it came to the gossip show.

* Cal’s Life Goals – Cal is a person who knows exactly what he wants to do with his life, he wants to be a journalist. His online following is outrageous. This causes conflict between him and his dad. Cal not only has to move complete states but he also has to stop doing videos. As you can expect, he doesn’t go down without a fight with that. I do like how it resolved itself.

* Mental Health Rep – Cal’s mom deals with anxiety and Leon has depression. I loved seeing this threaded in so seamlessly. Cal’s mom has a lot of issues regarding the move, especially the reality tv aspect. I can understand her fears because this sounds like an absolute nightmare. Not only does Cal’s dad have to be on tv as the competition goes on but so does the rest of his family. This worries Cal’s mom a lot and we see her really struggle with it. Leon has depression which he talks to Cal about. I loved how the characters were so open about their mental health.

* Leon and His Family– Leon used to be a gymnast and I liked how even though he liked it during his life, he doesn’t make it his life or career. It was nice to do it professionally for a time but he gives himself time to figure out what he wants for his life. I loved Leon’s mom a ton. She was so confident and poise in front of the cameras. Leon’s sister, Kat was a nice addition too but more on her below.

Some Things I Didn’t:

* Deb – I related to Deb a lot. Especially when it came to her home issues. I’ve been there. When you grow up like Deb has, struggling with income, you kind of know what you have to do sometimes in regards with making your own money. It sucked seeing how Deb had to help out her family because she worked but it’s a reality. I wish Cal hadn’t judged her parents quite so harshly because you do what you have to do. This isn’t to say it doesn’t suck when you’re a teen and have to help out financially but…it is what it is. I wish there had been more Deb content but given the Cal’s move, it makes sense for why there wasn’t. Still, I related to that girl a lot.

* Leon and Kat Friendship With Cal – I felt like their friendship with Cal came pretty fast and it wasn’t as done well as I feel it could have been. This is mostly between Cal and Kat, I would have loved to see Kat engage more with Cal. She was underused in my opinion.

*Cal’s Need For Other People’s Structure – As I said, Cal knows what he wants in life and when other people don’t, well, it upsets him. It upsets him a LOT. It upset me how much it upset him because guy, calm down. They’re both only SEVENTEEN. Not everyone knows what they want to be at 17 or 18 or you know, even 28. It was extremely season 5 Paige Michaelchuck. He never stops pushing Leon into deciding to do something more with his life but he gets a little better.
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Such a unique premise! Both an excellent love story and exploration of the future of space travel. The family dynamics felt real and I appreciated the grounded depiction of living with a parent who has anxiety
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This wonderful story hits on so many different things that are accessible to young adults (like my high schoolers)! In addition to being a LGBTQ+ romance, it deals with a young man who is forced to leave his home to travel for his father's job and is trying to find himself in a very different place. His mother is battling some intense anxiety, his best friend has family drama going on back home and now a reality network really has it out for him. I also loved all the NASA, science and space race throwbacks.
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So excited to order this book and get it in the hands of my high schoolers. This is a great read=alike for fans of Becky Albertelli (Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda).
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DNF'ing at 52% - This book is just a little messy. First, I was reading this as a digital ARC and the formatting of the occasional interview segments did not transfer well.

At first, I was pleased that the relationship between the two boys was not the crux of the drama, but I quickly became less enthused as they seemed to have no qualms about being in a relationship with each other from the moment Cal gets to Texas. They also have some conversations about relationships that seems a little too old for their senior year of high school.

I was confused when I got to the 15% mark and Cal was still in New York in a novel that is supposed to be about Cal dealing with life in Texas and his dad's career change. If it takes you more than 10% of the novel to get through the exposition, that starts to signal to me a failure of editing.

Also, according to the synopsis, the main drama of the plot was meant to be some shady dealings with the mission program. I will say that, at the 50% mark, I had not seen anything yet to suggest what the shady dealings were.

There was a really good story waiting to be edited out here, but I didn't want to struggle through. If anything, I'm happy that queer stories are mainstream enough that we can have bad ones, at least in YA.
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I loved this book so much! It was really sweet, authentic, and heart-wrenching. The relationship that builds between Cal and Leon is so realistic. Cal the perky over planner, and Leon the quiet one struggling with depression. It wasn’t perfect, but it was real and felt genuine.

I appreciated that the queer aspect of their relationship wasn’t part of any of the drama. That wasn’t what made them important. They didn’t struggle with that part of their identities, and the people around them accepted their relationship without question or surprise, I thought that was very refreshing.

The only slightly cheesy thing was how vulnerable and almost child-like Cal’s parents were, throwing tantrums, storming off to their bedroom in tears when Cal gets all the attention. It was like Cal was the adult taking care of THEM. But just because that wasn’t my experience growing up doesn’t mean there aren’t parents like that. It was part of what made Cal the person he was.

Overall, this was a wonderful, inspiring story that I found really, really enjoyable. I can’t wait to read more from this author!
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I really wanted to love this book more than I did. There's a lot that is positive that other reviewers have highlighted, mainly that the space exploration premise is interesting, and queer/ownvoices representation. I feel like all the elements were there to create something really fantastic, but it was off somehow. Mainly I wasn't a huge fan of the lack of development in the two main characters relationship, and some of the pacing felt clunky and off and there was more showing versus telling. 

That being said, I would still recommend this book, because of the representation and premise, and some of it is a just me thing.
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This is not entirely without its faults: Some of the pacing felt a bit clunky, it might've been a little insta-lovey, but honestly? It's probably because of how much this books packs into its pages.

As someone who is giving both YA and romance another shot after being wholly unimpressed by those genres for YEARS, I remain shocked when I enjoy a YA romance-y story. This one is very cute. The added space stuff helps, and I really enjoyed those bits the most. I actually found all the drama in the story to be really good and helpful to move the story along. I loved seeing characters grow and change within the story, something that I don't think is handled very deftly in a lot of the YA stories I've read, but Phil Stamper handles it beautifully.

Anyway...Space stuff. Gay relationships. Drama. Science. Reality TV. Great friendships. Anxiety and depression rep that isn't forced. OwnVoices author. What are you waiting for?

I'll definitely be watching Phil Stamper. I can't wait to see what he does next.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
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