Cover Image: The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us

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Member Reviews

I made my reading goal in 2020 to spend the entire year reading nothing but diverse voices.  I also wanted to stretch my genre boundaries a bit. I love my sci-fi and horror, but sometimes you gotta read outside your comfortable little boxes. The Gravity of Us had just enough of the science part of my favorite science fiction (astronauts! Mars!) to make me think I’d be comfortable reading it.

And, look, real talk: I’m bisexual but when it comes to my reading material, I prefer heterosexual couplings. It’s weird, I know, but there it is. So I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy a M/M romance. But I was going to give a try! ......and I’m so glad I did.  Cal & Leon made my cold, black, withered heart go all mush-a-gush. They were cute! And even though I’m normally Yes! Burn the World! No Happy Endings! I think I would have rebelled if they hadn’t gotten a happy ending.

(I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by revealing that, surely? If so, oops, sorry.)

Every single one of the characters in this book that I was supposed to root for, I rooted for. When certain events happen that impact several people at large, my heart was so far down in my torso I’m pretty sure it was blocking the entrance to my...well, nevermind that. When everything started to crumble around Cal, I had icy feet for him. Man, by the climax I was burrowed down in my couch, ignoring the world, rooting for things to go the way they needed to go.

So much drama, so much contemporary, so much I normally turn up my nose at, but Phil Stamper made me see the good side of people, of now(ish), and reminded me that there are other people out there that still have all sorts of starry-eyes for the space program, no matter how screwed up our reality is right now.

Such a great read. Highly recommended.
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This is one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Not only is it a lovely romance but it is also a whip smart commentary on social media and journalism. I felt very seen as I read this one. Stamper has a way of breathing modern life into his characters and it was honestly very similar to listening to a friend tell me a story, I can’t wait to see what else this author does in the future.
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I'd like to start off this review with a huge disclaimer. I think this story is important. I understand this book was not written for me. I'm not a queer teenager (anymore) so maybe I read this story through jaded 25-year old eyes. With that being said, I truly did not enjoy this book.

It had a strong start. At first, I thought Cal was such an interesting character. He had a social media following and I could relate to his story as someone who's dated both men and women. When I was in high school, I was extremely confused myself. I also appreciated that Cal never felt the need to put a label onto himself (as far as I can remember). I think this book is important for that fact alone.

I also loved the representation of mental illness in this book. I feel old by saying this, but I related more to Cal's mom than anyone else in this book. It's stated on the page a few times that she has anxiety and as someone who deals with that every day, I loved to read about it. Cal's love interest, Leon, is also dealing with depression and a general sense of confusion about what he wants to do next throughout the story. I think I would have liked this book more if it had taken place in Leon's POV because he seemed like a more enjoyable character. Which leads me to my next point...

Cal is INSUFFERABLE. He's literally the most selfish character I've ever read about. Quite a huge event happens that impacts someone's life drastically about midway through this book, and all he can do is think about how much he wants to kiss Leon. Actually, throughout this story, all he can do is think about how much he wants to be with Leon. I was constantly rolling my eyes. The story starts off with him still in Brooklyn before he moves to Texas for his dad's job. While he's in Brooklyn, we learn he's extremely close to his ex-girlfriend Deb (who he cheated on). She's constantly calling him out on his selfish behaviors. He's always calling her to complain about his issues and then hanging up before she can even comment on how things are with her. I feel like that issue is never truly addressed either. Deb is struggling with so much more than simple relationship issues and Cal can't do anything but think about himself (and how much he wants to kiss Leon).

The relationship was also the definition of insta-love. After just a month or two Cal wants to be with Leon forever and change all of his plans for this guy. Chill out a little bit? You're 17? His whole life becomes Leon after they meet. I swear, they meet and they're instantly in love. Hence why I call this relationship the definition of insta-love. I ended up skimming the last 20% of this book because I just couldn't read about Cal either propping himself up or trying to control what Leon does next. I think it's important to support the main relationship in such a romance-focused story such as this one so the fact that I didn't made it hard to get through. However, again I'm not 17 so maybe this will be more relatable for that audience.

Phil Stamper had such a great idea here and his writing was so accessible. I had such high hopes for this story but unfortunately, it just fell flat.
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Might be more of a 2.5 but I'm rounding up because while I didn't love this, I also didn't full on hate it? The writing style was just not really my favorite and honestly I was also not a huge fan of the main character. This was truly just like, the epitome of meh for me. Big womp :(
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This review will go live on The Blogger Girls on February 3rd., 2020

3.5 stars

I went into this book completely blind, with no idea what to expect.  All I knew is a liked the cover!

I was a bit confused in the beginning when Cal, the main character and wanna-be-journalist, was reporting on NASA’s upcoming mission to Mars, yes Mars the planet.  Was this a futuristic science fiction story? Well, no. It’s more present day contemporary with a retro 1960s feel. You’ll see what I mean once Cal and his family move to Houston.  Yes, Houston, home of NASA.

Cal is a self made teen journalist with a large following on an app called FlashFame (something like Instagram Stories maybe?).  Anyway, he made his fame reporting on political elections and following the astronauts of the hugely popular upcoming Mars mission and reality show Shooting Stars.  When Cal’s father becomes the latest astronaut selected to the team, Cal is forced to temporarily abandon is journalistic plans for at least the next year.  When Cal arrives in Houston, he immediately realizes the media situation is out of his control and the best way to handle his new reality is to get ahead of StarWatch and put out information on his own terms.  Before long, Cal decides he must take on StarWatch and Josh Farrow, the face of Shooting Stars, and try to save NASA and the Mars program.  Oh, did I forget to mention Leon?! The cute boy down the street and fellow Astrokid!

This was a really cute story.  It did take me a few days and a few attempts to really get interested in it.  I was constantly surprised with how unsurprised Cal’s parents were over Cal’s internet fame.  I mean, he was the most famous character in the story. Oh, but there is more to it than you know.  I liked Cal and I liked how he sometimes forgot how other people around him didn’t see life and the world like he did.  His relationship with Leon felt a little more glossed over than I would have liked. I think Leon’s depression could also have been explored a little more.  Maybe there was just a little too much going on in this story to have one main element stand out??

Overall, I enjoyed the story and the sweet romance.
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Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing me with an advanced e-copy for an honest review.

The Gravity of Us is a queer-#ownvoices novel that mixes romance, journalism, reality TV and sci-fi in one entertaining package. 

This novel gets your attention from the beginning, right away we day into who Cal is and who he wants to be. Sadly, that doesn’t match with his father, Calvin Lewis Sr, plans of becoming a pilot in NASA's newest mission, Orpheus V. Now, Cal finds himself in Clear Lake, Texas with no friends and his million followers on a platform where he regularly posts live journalistic videos I risk of disappearing. 

I loved the cleverness of this book, trust me, it is like nothing I’ve read before. These weirdly entertaining combinations the author makes (science + reality TV) works on so many levels, I just enjoyed it too much. The narrative and descriptions of this book made it a well-written-quick read. The discussion of mental health was very real and necessary because there’s often this notion of ‘fixing’ what’s ‘broken’ that is a complete misconception of depression. I also appreciated the portrayal of the familial dynamics, especially with Cal’s, whose parents in spite of having a complicated relationship, still have a love for each other.

However, the book failed me in terms of characters and their development. First up, we have our main guy, Cal, who was annoying, whiny and quite selfish. Then, there’s Leon, who is actually a character that works by himself, his journey with depression felt real. Nonetheless, Leon & Cal didn’t really do it for me, they went from 0 to a 100 in nothing… I just couldn’t with them, too Insta-lovey.

Finally, everyone this book fun and really unique, and it comes out soon!
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Thank you so much to Bloomsbury for the chance to read an ARC of this book. 

3.5 stars rounded up to 4
There’s much to like in The Gravity of Us, a sweet and science-filled YA romance. The premise—the sons of two astronauts preparing for a mission to Mars fall in love—is inventive and compelling. Stamper’s passion for and research into the space program clearly comes through. The main character’s complicated family dynamics were thoughtfully handled, as was the exploration of the ways social media can be harnessed for both good and ill (ultimately, though, I thought the book’s perspective on social media was perhaps a little too rosy). 

That said, this is a debut novel and it feels like one. The pacing often seems off: the book got off to a slow start, but the love story itself is very rushed, with little slow burn or even tension. A conflict between two characters is resolved far too neatly and hastily. Stamper has a few verbal tics, including a distracting preoccupation with breath: breathing gets heavier, gets slower; characters breathe deeply or can’t breathe; two characters in two different situations are described as having “ragged breath” within a couple pages of each other; there is a lot of gasping, and also a lot of “chills.”

Despite some flaws, this book is a fun read and will definitely appeal to its target audience. Teens who are interested in the space program will especially enjoy it.
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Welcome to this book review !
I received an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review.

This was one of my most anticipated release of the year, while it did not become "my favourite book of all time" I did have a great time reading it. 
I was hooked from the first page, the main character Cal felt real and I had a great time reading about him and his drive to "fix things". His journalism and the NASA aspect really kept me invested in the story. 
This book focuses on familial relationship, I loved the way the author included anxiety and rash decision making by having the parents (mother and father respectively), also how Cal  had to go through moving away and being away from his best friend. 
The romance was enjoyable, I loved how Cal learned that he could not fix people, through his relationship with Leon and his (Leon's) depression. There is fighting and messes, but he learns to listen to people and ultimately this helps him grow as a person. 
I also loved the representation of social media and of the impact/influence it has on us. 

Now for what I didn't enjoy is how self centered Cal was, he seemed super realistic at moments and other times would do a complete 160 which made for moments in the story where I couldn't understand why he would've made such actions/reacted in certain ways. The Orpheus mission to space definitely stole the spotlight, in my opinion, from what the main character was going through. I went in wanting a romance and the best part of the book was the NASA mission, even then it felt like if not for it the story would've been seemingly boring at times. That's not to say that I did not enjoy it, because I certainly did. But I expected more. 

If you are a fan of space and vloggers I would recommend picking this up. 

overall good, but nothing blew me away or made me want to re-read moments of it. 

3.5/5 stars
-Bookarina
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Life is pretty good for Brooklyn teen Cal; he has an impressive follower count on the FlashFame app and he’s about to start an internship at BuzzFeed. But then Cal’s father announces that he has been selected for NASA’s upcoming mission to Mars, and the whole family is moving to Houston. 

Cal thinks this is terrible: not only is his NY-based internship delayed indefinitely, but then he learns that he can’t even parlay his streaming journalism into providing content for his father’s new opportunity because StarWatch, a reality television production company has exclusive rights and they’re filming everything for their Shooting Stars show. 

And then he gets to Houston and moves into a planned neighborhood full of 1960s nostalgia meant to imitate what life was like for astronaut families during the original space race. It’s almost too much for Cal to deal with, but then he meets Leon, who is cute and charming and likes Cal as much as Cal likes him. This might be the one bright spot in the dreadful media circus that Cal’s life has turned into. 

This book is so much more than a space themed Young Adult romance; it’s also biting social commentary on the state of media in society, as well as its need to be the first to get the breaking story. I don’t want to go on too much of a tangent, but we just saw this happen with the death of Kobe Bryant. As the news broke, there was frenzied speculation to be the first to report who was in the helicopter with him, and the result was a great deal of misinformation. The bigger picture here is that reality television and the 24/7 newscycle make people feel as though they are entitled to know everything about celebrity’s private lives.   

Stamper reflects this mindset in a horrific scene in which StarWatch not only asks a character for a reaction after a tragedy, but wants them to recreate a moment to make it look more dramatic for the broadcast.

I don’t want to imply that this book is only serious; even though the word gravity is literally in the title, there are plenty of lighter moments. Cal is a delightful protagonist with a wry sense of humor, and he presents a balanced outlook on his strange new life. Also, I have to say that as a 90s kid, I especially enjoyed Cal’s collection of cassette tapes.  

I would recommend The Gravity of Us. I want to go back to what I was saying about YA romance. It’s a common theme in the genre; I’ve already discussed the ways in which The Gravity of Us transcends beyond the trope, but I do want to acknowledge its status as a YA romance because everybody deserves to have their story told, and readers should be able to read stories with characters who are just like them. This was such a lovely book, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Stamper in the future. 
  
 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow. This was absolutely beautiful. The writing style was amazing and so addicting. And the wording of descriptions and stuff was soooo good. I loved how accurate and scientific this was. Like, I dont know anything about astronauts or NASA, so I definitely learned a lot while reading this!

I loved all the relationships as well. I love Cals parents and how they fought hard for their relationship. And of course Leon is everything. I felt a personal connection with him, hes very relatable in many ways and I love that.

I loved the character development throughout the story, especially with Cal. I loved the ending of this, it was so cute. I totally ship Cal and Leon to Mars and back (Hehe, get it? 😉). Their relationship is everything like wow.

If you havent added this to your tbr yet then do it now! It's so worth the read and I enjoyed every second of it!
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A sweet, dreamy, idealistic read, that doesn't stray from darker subjects.

The Gravity of Us follows a modern space race, as NASA prepares for a piloted mission to Mars. The narrator is Cal, a Brooklyn-native high schooler who's made a name for himself as a social media journalist, on an app called FlashFame.

For me, the most impressive element in the story is how deeply immersed I felt in Cal's emotional landscape. His parents felt selfish and short sited; the adults in his world seemed childish and mis-focused; these elements just feel incredibly true both to the teenage experience and the way adults can often dismiss the core values and accomplishments of their kids. I found these elements to be incredibly painful and real.

On the brighter side....NASA. SPACE. MARS. I'm a total geek, and I was all in for the mission and dreams of the mission. I wanted to spend hundreds more pages inside of NASA, and also if NASA wants to hire me right now, I will weather swamps and even mosquitos to chill with you <3.

And of course, this book is Queer AF, with a darling interracial couple. It is just so lovely to have characters that reflect my communities and values inhabit a story that I love. The author handled the diversity in the story in an idealized a way that I really appreciated. This was absolutely not a coming out story; in fact there was literally no to-do about the fact that the characters were gay, or in an interracial relationship. It was acknowledged that they were cute, romantic, in love, etc. But there was no character, adult or teen, who ever identified the structure of their relationship as being anything unusual.

I love coming out stories, and I find that the conflicts in these plots really resonate with me (and other readers I am sure), but it is just so refreshing to be able to enjoy a cute gay love story without it having to be about shifting social values.

Likewise, while I think it's so important that we do share stories acknowledging how race can changed people's experience, communication, and expectation, it's really lovely to live in a fictional world where these factors aren't key focal points.

There's something very idealistic and refreshing about the way that Stamper treats prejudice and social values.

On a final note, the relationship between the two romantic leads was a crush-to-love arc. They may have had communication challenges here and there, and struggled with how to address anxieties and mental illness, but the arc of the relationship was based on constant affection, love and attraction, even through their lows.

So for readers who need something soft and kind, though I can't promise there are no dark elements in this book, the romantic arc is sweet, supportive, and healthy, and I think this is a great read for folks who want to feel hopeful.

As is always my feeling with contemporaries, I just wish it was 100 pages longer <3.
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I read this book over the course of two days, while sick with a winter virus, and it brightened my spirits. It truly felt like I had been to NASA, and instead of freezing in Chicago, I was sweating in humid Texas. The setting was very vivid and memorable, which enhanced my reading experience.

Since the book doesn’t release until February 4, 2020, I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free. I’d love to add more about what makes me happy about this book, but it’s too spoiler-laden. Maybe an addendum in a month or so. 

But back to the characters. YA fiction is not my go-to genre, but I’ve read enough to know what I like and don’t like. Cal, Leon, and Kat (Leon’s sister) read like actual teenagers. They weren’t too precious or precocious. They have talents and gifts, but they also have problems and need adults to guide them. As much as Cal teaches his parents about social media, he needs them for so much more, which was refreshing to see. His mother offers a great nugget of wisdom that Cal carries with him through the rest of the book. 

Cal, the book’s sole narrator, was so relatable to me. As the book goes on, his layers are peeled back. This outgoing and extroverted young man shares more about who he is inside and how he deals with difficulties. It reminded me of how I cope with life, and my need to make sure the people around me are happy. This book resonated with me on an emotional level in a way that I did not expect.

For a queer YA novel about love, space, and discovery, check out The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. 

Thank you, NetGalley for the eARC.
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This book reminds me of the excitement I felt the first time I watched October Sky. I felt that like I was one the ground of Clear Lake, Texas, experiencing all of this with Cal and Leon. It created a nostalgia for a time I was not alive for, but showed the behind the scenes of a romanticized era. Stamper does an amazing job tapping into the emotions of young love, and all the fear, excitement, and uncertainty that is present in any journey: Earthly or space..
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I'm having trouble articulating my feelings for this book right now, but I think it boils down to the fact that everything moved so quickly. There was little lead-up in the beginning to his father deciding to be an astronaut and them moving to Texas, and it was explained mostly later through conversations, which felt stilted. There was little build-up to Cal and Leon's relationship; it was immediate attraction and almost seemed unspoken that they would get together. I love a good slow-burn, so that was disappointing to me; I wanted to see some "will they, won't they" action but that never came. It was always "they will, not they won't." 

Furthermore, I felt like the plot needed more development. This was first and foremost a romance, and I think a lot more could have been done with the NASA, reality TV aspect, considering it was very underdeveloped.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book; it was fun, cute, and light. I just wished that it had done more. The one thing I did love was the discussion about fixing people, especially people with mental health problems, like depression. As someone who always wants to fix other people, I am glad that this novel pointed out how unhealthy that is for both yourself and the person you want to fix. It tackled all the different sides of this issue, especially how for Cal it meant that he bore everyone else's burdens. This book actually helped me to realize that yeah, I do that too. I have already accepted for a long time that I'm a fixer, but I didn't realize how much it weighed on me personally. 

Overall, this book needs a lot more work and I wish I could say that it was better. However, I think its lightness, cuteness, and exploration of mental health were on point, to say the least.
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One of the best YA contemporaries I have read in awhile, The Gravity of Us is doing so many things right! It requires some suspension of disbelief baked into the premise, but once I got past that I absolutely loved it. This is a coming of age story and a tale of first love that also offers a beautifully nuanced take on mental health, and an incisive yet balanced look at social media and celebrity culture., plus the nerdiness of NASA! This is an achingly beautiful story with characters who are imperfect, but learn to be better and love better. A stunning debut that I hope many people pick up.

Seventeen-year-old Cal is a self-made journalist living in NYC, with a large following on a social video platform where he is known for his live news updates. But everything changes when his father is unexpectedly as one of the astronauts for the first manned mission to Mars. In a matter of days, they must pack up and move from New York to Houston, Texas, where the astronauts and their families are the subject of a reality TV show seeking out drama. Cal is told he can no longer create videos without approval from the producers and must decide what to do. Meanwhile, he meets Leon, the handsome son of another astronaut and the two begin to form a relationship.

I loved so much about this book. It showcases how social media and reality TV can be over produced, harmful, and create false images. But on the other hand, we see the beauty of social media used to lift up voices who are usually silenced and the power of regular people to influence political shifts. I think this is so well handled and nuanced. Cal is caught in the middle and has to make choices about how to navigate this world of celebrity, sponsorship, and the power of influence. Incredibly well done.

Another major theme here is mental health, and I LOVE the way it is handled! Multiple characters are living with mental health challenges of different kinds, but they are humanized and feel like real people we live and interact with, or perhaps even ourselves. Cal's mom struggles with anxiety and we see how she copes using therapy, meditation, etc. with the support of her family. Late in the book, we also see the relationship between Cal's parents improve (they start the book fighting a lot) and discover they have been seeing a marriage counselor and are learning to to communicate in healthier and more effective ways. I LOVE seeing that in a YA book! Parents with a difficult relationship who find a way to resolve and improve it rather than just getting divorced.

Leon lives with depression and the way that is handled is beautiful and realistic. Finding love and a supportive relationship is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't fix depression, and Cal can't always try to "fix" people because they aren't really broken. Leon advocates for himself and sets important emotional boundaries. The boys develop this beautiful relationship that is a friendship as well as a romance. This is #ownvoices for the queer representation, and in fact both Leon and Cal seem to be bisexual or pansexual, since both have been interested in girls at different times. (neither word is used on the page) I really love seeing that represented, especially with boy characters because I think those orientations are often brushed off or seen as invalid. I also love that Cal and Leon live their queerness in different ways. Cal is in some ways more like the stereotype, being very into fashion for instance, but Leon is more low-key.

Clearly I adored this book. The plot was inspired by The Astronaut Wives Club, which is a fascinating nonfiction account of how much the media and public focused on the early astronauts and their families. This is an updated version and it's really brilliant. It also celebrates science and all of the people behind the scenes who make things happen. The guy who studies soil samples, the woman who tests the astronauts in responding to a crisis, the guy who builds an antennae satellite. It's a beautiful representation of why it takes a village and the importance of science. I cannot say enough good things about this book, so please go read it! I received and advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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First of all, this isn’t a sci-fi book and the main characters don’t go to Space. (I just wanted to clarify because I have noticed a little confusion in the book-world!)

This is a burgeoning love story, a realistic take on family, and a bestowal of admiration to NASA and the entirety of the Space industry - not just the illustrious astronauts.

Stamper creates a realistic, queer love story between two of the main characters. I appreciated how he didn’t have his character define his sexuality and just let him be himself. It’s innate for humans to want to put things into categories or boxes, but sometimes you just can’t and I liked seeing a representation of that.

This isn’t a spoiler, but I also wanted to say how much I appreciated the portrayal of the mom’s anxiety throughout the story. I felt very seen in the way that Stamper described the anxiety. It wasn’t a character flaw for her, it was just a part of her. You got to see the mom’s thinking processes relating to her anxiety, how the family made accommodations for it, and how she still pushed herself to work with her feelings. There was also frequent mentions of various characters utilizing therapy and that is so important for all of us to read about and help alleviate the stigma.

If you like a low-angst, queer love, and all-around-great story, please pick up this book!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

I love this cover and the concept of this novel. I love books about space that don’t actually take place in space (love the ones that take place in space too!). Where you get to hear about how characters are getting ready for the mission and how it affects others around them. 

There’s a lot going on this book theme wise. There are different family dynamics, therapy, mental illness, friendships, death, LGBTQ relationships, social media, etc. etc. Some of them didn’t feel very fleshed out and weren’t really touched on all that much and felt like an odd character trait not fully explained.

The thing that threw me off the most unfortunately was the relationship between Calvin and Leon. I really didn’t believe it at all and never felt like I was rooting for them. Their love was so instant and there chemistry just wasn’t there. I appreciate bringing diverse relationships and mental illness into books but this felt a little flat. I did however, really enjoy Leon’s articulation of his depression and how he feels/sees it and how he wants to be treated for it. 

With that aside, I wanted more of the space mission, more of how this mission was shaping the main characters families lives as well as others, more of how life is like in this little community. 

I expect this book to be a hit among teens and I am excited to pick up the next book that Stamper puts out.
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Oh. My. Goodness. This is the cutest book I have read all year. The Gravity of Us has amazing characters, a complex and wholly intriguing plot, and LGBTQIA representation with a m/m relationship. I found myself rooting for Cal every step of the way and wanting him to succeed. I hurt for him, cheered for him, and supported him throughout this storyline of growing up, learning about life, and fighting for what is right.

Cal wants nothing to do with his dad applying to be an astronaut in Texas for NASA. He loves his Brooklyn life and he has some serious social media success with his journalism efforts, that he doesn't want to give up. What he doesn't realize is that his life is just waiting to begin in Texas. He meets friends and is able to stand up for what he believes is right and important, and use his platform on social media to do so.

Cal is my lil cinnamon roll and I will protect him with everything I have. His character is just so darn endearing! I loved the social media and science blend in the plot, it's unique and like nothing I have read before - and I couldn't put it down. I started reading and I looked down what felt like 5 minutes later, and I was 30% into the book. I love books where kids look to take down an oppressive regime - which you normally find in fantasy novels not contemporary BUT IT WORKS.

Go put this book on your TBR, pronto mucho.
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The Gravity of Us was so good. I loved how it has an element of science to it. The NASA stuff was nice bonus for a contemporary read. I really loved Cal and Leon. This story deals with depression, social issues, money probably and family problems. The Gravity of Us puts Cal right in the mist of all them and shows his struggle to try and fix everything. The one thing I didn't enjoy was the Star Watch stuff, I felt like it cheapened this heartwarming story. I'm sure it's there for added drama but I didn't much enjoy that part of the book. However, I'm sure others will enjoy it but I don't typically like reality tv stories. Overall, I really enjoyed this charming book!
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<i>Thanks to Bloomsbury YA & NetGalley for the e-ARC!</i>

Cal has a thriving social media presence. His thousands of followers on FlashFame can count on him for updates about all things New York City and what's what each week. But when his dad is chosen as the final astronaut taking part in NASA's Orpheus mission, he's on his way to Houston and his journalism career feels like it's slipping through his fingers. In Clear Lake, Cal will learn about space, love, and that it's okay to not be okay.

Space + m/m relationship + social media, in a nutshell.

I was so excited to get an eARC of this story and overall it was truly delightful. It was very charming and left me with some warm-fuzzy feels. However, it's not a perfect book and I did have a feel qualms. Let's start with some of the "mehs" and work our way up from there, yeah?


First, there's a TV production company in this world called StarWatch and one of their favorite subjects is Clear Lake, TX--where all the astronauts and families live. They've created a reality TV show called Shooting Stars that essentially documents the goings on and drama in the community. A lot of the plot surrounding StarWatch and Shooting Stars felt a bit unbelievable to me. That being said, I've never been on a reality show so maybe it's a completely accurate representation! It just felt like StarWatch only existed to be the "villain", but there was a lot of convenience when it came to getting out of sticky situations. <spoiler>I feel this particularly about the fact that, at the beginning of the novel, StarWatch is supposedly going to ban Cal from any social media use. Cal ignores this, and really there aren't any consequences. I definitely didn't think that felt realistic. Even if you do have NASA on your side, you're still under a legally binding contract and I'm willing to bet TV production companies have those locked up TIGHT.</spoiler>

Related to StarWatch, there were intermittent chapters that were supposed to be transcripts of interviews from the show. Maybe it was just my eARC, but they were all...missing chunks of sentences? It was very choppy and made it difficult to garner what the point was. Perhaps it was intentional and supposed to be sort of garbled or botched transcriptions, but if so, that was never communicated and just left me confused. I do plan to check out the physical copy to see if that's different, because if so it would have definitely made a difference in my reading experience! <i>Anyone with an eARC--did you have this problem?</i>

Cal was also...just a little annoying. He's a teenager, sure, but he is wildly self-obsessed and woefully unaware of what's going on with those around him. He's not a particularly good friend and he can be a bit judgey. I think he matures a bit in the end, but he definitely wasn't my favorite character.

But let's talk about the GOOD. Speaking of favorite characters, I really loved the love interest, Leon, and wish we had gotten more of him. This is definitely insta-love (which I typically am pretty neutral about), and we didn't get to spend a lot of time getting to know him. Regardless, I still loved him and would read a whole book about him and his sister, Kat. (OMG prequel perhaps?? Phil plz)

I thought the social media aspect was super interesting. It was a different representation of social media/social media fame than I had ever read about. I really liked that it was something that was really important to Cal and that he wasn't ashamed of it--so often I feel like social media is treated as just a ~millennial~ thing and isn't taken seriously. I found Phil Stamper handled it very well. 

Finally, I loved that it was about space in some ways, but it wasn't the sole focus. Disclaimer: I am absolutely <i>terrified</i> of space. (Why, Emily, would you read a book that specifically includes NASA/space missions/rockets/etc? Idk it had a pretty cover lay off me.) The mission is a big focus, of course--I mean, they're going to MARS for crying out loud--but it really is about the relationships and the community. If you are also terrified of space: <spoiler>the epilogue gave me major anxiety lol read at your own risk.</spoiler>

Overall, I definitely want to read more from Phil Stamper and think this was an utter delight!
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