Cover Image: The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us

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Member Reviews

I’m a bit of a cliché. I have always wanted to be an astronaut. Ever since I went to the Ontario Science Centre in grade 5 and did a mission to Mars simulation with my class, I’ve been fascinated by it. Not only is space itself so incomprehensible to my brain, but the possibility that we might be able to one day have people live on Mars is mind-boggling…and exciting.

When I came across The Gravity of Us by newcomer Phil Stamper (in stores February 4), I was hooked from the moment I saw NASA. Add to the fact that it’s a YA novel with a gay protagonist (#ownvoices) and the addition of a reality TV show and I just knew I had to read it.

Synopsis
Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels—and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

My musings
There is a lot happening in this book. It touches on family dynamics, a sense of community, complicated friendships, the power of the media, death and mental illness, all wrapped up in a story about young love. Some of it was done really well and other parts were glossed over a bit, but all in all, Stamper created a believable, interesting world that you don’t often see in literature.

The strongest part of the novel for me is Cal’s relationship with is parents. His mother suffers from a mild, but still life-affecting, case of mental illness, his father so focused on becoming an astronaut that nothing else matters, and yet you see how they come together as family to understand what everyone needs in order to thrive. There was no cheesy my-parent-is-my-best-friend, which we often see in YA, there was also no absentee or abusive relationship, which was refreshing as well. I loved getting to know the family and really feeling for all of them.

Stamper had a way of explaining the space program in digestible pieces for anyone, whether you’re a big fan like I am, or someone who isn’t interested in it at all. He did something similar in his depiction of the media: You got to see the good and the bad and how it can affect different people in different ways. He also really drove home that you shouldn’t necessarily trust everything that you see/read and the bias that the media presents—all of which I think is super important for the young readers of today. Social media has become a beast that is hard to tame, and with the younger generation being so plugged in all the time, messages like these are important.

My least favourite part of the book, unfortunately, was the relationship between Cal and Leon. Though I did appreciate the fact that Leon also suffered from a mental illness (and it was done well, in my opinion), I just couldn’t believe the chemistry between the characters…and especially how fast it progressed. I know it’s a book, and I know love at first sight can be a thing, but so much of Cal’s time was spent thinking about Leon that I found it distracting from the rest of the story. I honestly wished we learned more about Leon’s family dynamic and more about the rest of plot. I would have been just as (if not more) satisfied if Leon and Cal were just friends. The love story added nothing for me.

All that being said, I predict this will not be the only novel we see by Phil Stamper. This is a great debut that touches on a lot of topics that I really enjoyed…and I can’t wait to see what he thinks up next.

3.5 STARS

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The Gravity of Us tell.s the story of Calvin jr. who is a teenager with a large social media following. His life is suddenly uplifted as his father gets picked as the last astronaut for the upcoming NASA mission to Mars. Cal is forced to leave New York, his best friend, and an internship with Buzzfeed sending his future plans astray, and having to learn what it means to change plans. 

I'll admit I wasn't too sure if I'd like this for so many reasons. One being the reality TV scenes thrown in, especially since those scenes feel choppy and confusing to me. Another was that this book was something I knew nothing about, NASA and a connection to a time that happened before I was born. I gave it a try though because I love LGBTQ+ stories told by own voices and I'm glad I read this.

Overall it's a cute story of two boys in love at a complicated time for everyone involved with so much more embedded in the story than the space exploration mission. The complexity of the characters, their relationships, and emotions throughout are really what drew me in.

I loved how this book addresses both anxiety and depression through two different characters. I thought it was good to see mental health being addressed by both the mom and Leon. I also liked how Cal jr. wants to fix everyone but struggles with how and learning that it cant be fixed.

I really enjoy how Cal acts like he's a rock and the idea that he can lift everyone up. I enjoy the complexity of him needing others as things fall apart for him but how he struggles with asking for help. It reminds me a lot of myself throughout my life so it resonates with me and makes me feel bad for Cal.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

I was really impressed by this book. I’m not generally super interested in space, but the concept sounded so cool, that I really wanted to read this book. You can imagine my pleasure then when I was accepted to review an e-arc. I was delighted! I couldn’t wait to start it, and once I was reading it, I didn’t want it to end! 

I want to talk about the things that impressed me. The first thing that impressed me was the writing. It was of high caliber and not once did I think, “this writing isn’t good”, in fact, it had so much depth and range that it was part of the reason that the characters came alive for me. This is Stamper’s first novel, but his talent shows through. I was hooked from the first page. 

The characters were another item that impressed me. I loved that they were all different, that there was personality behind them. Even the secondary characters came alive to me. There is much to love about our protagonist, Cal. Cal, a seventeen-year-old is a social media journalist, and his personality was wild. And totally believable. Leon and Kat as well were great characters. Deb was too. I liked all the teens in this book, and at no point did I think, “really? They’re doing this?” Instead I thought that their reactions and responses were like teens – or what I remember being a teen was like. 

To go along with the characters I thought giving Cal a “job” was a great idea. Not only because it gave some conflict in the book (such as a teen can do just as much important work as an adult) but because teens are just as business savvy as adults. It gave Cal great depth. 

This book also dealt with different issues that happen in real life. Family relationships was a big one. We see all sorts of different family dynamics in this book, and it plays out well. There are a lot of different ways that it could go, but again, it all worked for me. 

Romantic relationships was a subplot in this book, in this case is was a lgbtq+ relationship, and Stamper handles it so deftly and wonderfully, you can’t help but fall in love with the adorable relationship he sets up. I think the ups and downs of it was done well, and I loved every minute of it. 

Friendships too, were dealt with. There was no one size fits all model in this book, but it did briefly explore the different depths of friendship, which I really appreciated. 

This book also tackles depression, but again, it was done well. 

I don’t want to reveal any of the amazing plot points, but you will be rooting for Cal throughout this book. You will fall in love with him and his story. 

A fantastic book and so beautifully written!
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*I received a free, digital ARC of this title from the NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

	The Gravity of Us is Phil Stamper’s debut novel set in present day United States as NASA is finalizing a crew of researchers, scientists, and other experts to become astronauts headed to Mars. These astronauts are treated like celebrities, with a TV show to prove it. Cal is a teenager living in Brooklyn, living his dream as a social media news influencer and potential Buzzfeed intern. That is, until his father is chosen as one of the future Mars astronauts and Cal’s life is relocated to Texas and the cameras are now edging into his personal life. But maybe Leon, another astronaut’s son, can help him acclimate and figure out his new role as an “Astrokid” and what that will mean for his future as a journalist. 
	The Gravity of Us is such a modern, realistic fiction novel. It’s set in the not-so-distant-future-summer of 2020 with a heavy emphasis on media, journalism, and the future of Earth in space. Combine these current topics of interest with a gay protagonist and we have the base for heavy dialougue regarding politics and culture in the United States. Cal is a budding journalist using an app similar to Instagram to post news for his generation. He’s wanting to push the envelope with hard hitting news and wants to bring a fresh perspective to the media. 
All this sounds fantastic, but I felt it was a bit flat throughout the book. Yes, Cal does have his media presence but it’s glossed over as being “as easy as pointing a camera” with the right timing. That irked me a little bit and does little service to the work that goes into journalism. However, this aspect also goes to show how media is changing and literally anyone with a phone can cover news on a variety of platforms and be successful at it. But in terms of overall plot? I felt this view made everything too easy for Cal - Oh! I have a problem? Let me just film it and all will be fixed! 
If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know that romance novels are not my particular favorite - I recognize this bias within myself. The Gravity of Us is classified as a “YA Romance” and, even further, a queer romance at that. I’m here for it. However, Cal and Leon go for that insta-love that drives me completely batty. I have a lot of friends that love this and swoon when this happens, but I prefer more build up development of relationship than: “Hi, I just met you. *turns page* We’re boyfriends now.” Maybe that says more about myself than the book, though. 
Overall, I would say that I found The Gravity of Us to be an enjoyable read. It’s not “the best I’ve ever read” material but I didn’t dislike it. I’d be interested to see what Phil Stamper has up his sleeve in the future. For these reasons, I’m giving The Gravity of Us 3-out-5 Awesome Austin Points. It came out on February 9th so look for it on the shelves of your local bookstore! 

I'll post a review on my blog 2/9/2020
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The Gravity of Us was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and with a gorgeous cover, an OwnVoices queer romance, and a promising new author, this ticked all of my boxes.

The Gravity of Us follows young Calvin, a promising journalist who is just about to finish high school when his father, a pilot, gets picked to fill the remaining spot for an upcoming NASA mission to Mars that takes Cal’s plans for the future and turns them upside down. Uprooted from his life in Brooklyn and his raising stardom as a self-made journalist on the FlashFame app, Cal finds himself in Texas, now one of the “Astrokids” and under strict instruction to cease all social media posts and stories—a real blow for someone who has spent the last few years building a portfolio as one of the most honest, no-bullshit political news reporters who just so happens to have scored an internship with Buzzfeed.

While against all odds, Cal continues his social updates and suddenly brings a whole lot more interest and demand to NASA and its mission, not to mention more than their reality show ever did, the traditional StarWatch reality TV show and the ‘new media’ Cal brings to the table go head to head, and the results aren’t pretty for anyone involved.

It takes a special sort of author to make a topic you have absolutely no knowledge of suddenly become the center of your universe as you read a book and Stamper surely delivers on this front. Prior to reading The Gravity of Us, the only encounters I’d had with anything concerning astrophysics or space were TV shows and an ex-boyfriend who could not get me interested despite studying aerodynamics at university for four years. While reading The Gravity of Us, though, I found myself immersed in the lives of the astronauts and the strain that this profession puts on their loved ones, not knowing whether they’d see their spouse or parent again once they’d go up in that rocket left me reeling. Fans of anything relating to NASA or space will devour this book, I am sure of it.

My favourite part—besides the NASA history that is explored—was the way the story tackled social media and the power of altered perception one has when living “online”. It was refreshing to see social media portrayed as a possible career, but also not shying away from exposing the ‘staging’ that comes with the field. Despite the reality show aspect of the book not quite being what I expected and falling a bit flat, I loved the behind the scenes look at what goes into making ratings spike and how real people become actors in their own lives even in harrowing times such as when they are grieving for their loved ones.

It also shed light on the exploitation of young and innovative voices for personal and political gain and that might have been my favourite storyline of the entire book—Cal trying to make his own path while people are throwing stones into it and eventually the very same people end up needing him to keep their mission going at all. It just goes to show how much power there is in honesty and transparency and how modern politics could learn a thing or two from the youth—yes, fame is fascinating. Sure, reality TV is addicting. But getting the real facts and receiving them on a no-nonsense platform from someone you can trust? That’s way better. This book just made me feel cherished as a voice instead of merely someone who’s a vote politicians are trying to sway their way.

The main issue I had with the novel was the relationship between Cal and Leon. I have gotten used to the insta love of YA and certainly understand that it is hard to develop a bond between characters within such a short amount of pages, but Cal and Leon had no chemistry in my opinion. They go from speaking with each other for the first time to starting a relationship within a few chapters, without ever really talking. They don’t get to know each other and instead just seem to have their “fate” already mapped out for them which felt a bit overwhelming. In general, I didn’t really see anything they had in common besides their parents being part of this upcoming NASA mission. I just wish they would have had more substance to them – both their individual characters as well as the people they became in the relationship.

The book was certainly trying to elucidate a lot of topics that YA feeds on and put a twist on it— depression not being the main storyline for a character, the fears of not being able to live up to the standards that your parents have set because you see your future heading in a completely different direction, and staying true to yourself in a world of opportunity and impending failure.

I think it succeeded to a certain extent as I did really enjoy Leon living with depression not being his main characteristic, but I did wish for more development on his personality, nonetheless. We are shown quite a bit concerning his character, a lot of retellings of what other people think Leon is and wants out of life, but not so much from his point of view. And when Leon finally opens up, Cal swoops in with his own expectations and plans instead of accepting that you don’t have to have everything figured out at seventeen. This is remediated in the later pages of the novel but it would have been nice earlier on so one could relate to Leon and Calvin more or form a connection in general.

While their relationship had some adorable moments, I just did not find myself rooting for them because there was unnecessary drama and miscommunications that seemed to be at odds with Cal’s personality (he advertises being an honest guy but then doesn’t really tell anyone anything of substance except for his viewers). Still, it was a refreshing read to see two guys fall in love and not having to deal with coming out and instead focus more on the issues that come with being in the beginning stages of a relationship. It makes me hopeful for this new and improved generation of YA writers where we finally get to see LGBTQ+ characters as the protagonists living their life to their fullest because we deserve that representation and we are finally getting it.

Overall, this was a pretty solid debut novel that brings together a fascinating topic and a sweet queer romance that may take your heart by storm. I think the YA world has gained an intriguing and authentic new voice with Phil Stamper and I for one am excited to see what topic he tackles next.
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Cal's life is upended abruptly when his dad gets a new job as a NASA astronaut: in less than three days, the whole family packs up their Brooklyn apartment and moves to Clear Lake, Texas, where they will live in suburban "perfection" with other astrofamilies. In Clear Lake, Cal meets Leo and Kat, astrosiblings, whom he quickly befriends. And, with Leo, more-than-befriends. Back in NYC, Cal had curated a popular authentic journalist name for himself on the FlashFame app. Now in Houston, he continues to post interviews with NASA scientists, in-real-time emotions of astrofamilies at Important/Emotional Events, and more-- despite reality-tv StarWatch (think Kardashians, but for astronauts and their families) having reigning control of the storytelling. This creates a lot of tension, and requires Cal to make some tough decisions. In the end, there's a lot of character growth; a lot of cute (and queer!) romance; a lot of science nerding out; a lot of positive discussion around mental health; and a lot of opportunities for teens to think about their place in the IRL world, the online world, and the power they have over their futures and how they want the world to view them. 

Topics covered in The Gravity of Us:
- healthy relationships of parent and parent, parent and kid, boyfriend and boyfriend, friend and friend
- mental health (Leo has depression and Cal's mom has anxiety) and therapy
- social media and fame
- social media and immediacy
- reality tv
- science --NASA, duh, but also the "boring" side of high-profile science
- being a planner vs. undecided about your future
- how politics and political favor is a fickle being and how we can support programs and political stuff positively
- news: clickbait vs. authentic journalism

The Gravity of Us gets 10 out of 10 stars for positive character growth and 11 out of 10 stars covering a vast array of topics that teens need to think about. The only reason it gets 4 (out of 5) stars from me is because it's slow at times. I had to keep forcing myself to pick it back up to finish it. 

LGTBQIA+: 
- Cal is queer: "my own queerness-- something I may never full find the right label for."
- Leo is also not-straight. He never labels himself, but admits to having kissed boys and girls in the past.
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What a great read! This book left me feeling nostalgic in a good way!!! I love the aspect of taking the 69’s American culture and twisting it to suit the plot as well as updating the idea of NASA and today’s modern family.  Cal really hit the mark as a character and it’s was great to see his evolution throughout the book. Leon and Kat added the extra element for me and brought such a sweet love affair to the surface!
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On Goodreads:

NetGalley ARC|  What more could a girl ask for:  A sweet YA LGBT romance, talks about NASA and going to Mars, and a teen who is killing it at social media and his future.

I absolutely loved The Gravity Of Us and bought into the aspects of family, friendship, and relationships.  As a blogger, Cal is my hero.  If you are looking for a contemporary take on the media and its political role, you will also find something here.  

Stamper isn't afraid to take on multiple issues, too, including mental health and dysfunctional families.  You can find my full review on The Uncorked Librarian here along with other amazing February 2020 new releases: https://theuncorkedlibrarian.com/february-2020-book-releases/.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper is a very sweetly written YA romance with a m/m central theme. Due out 4th Feb 2020 from Bloomsbury YA, it's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

There's a lot to love here. The writer is quite gifted with descriptive prose and the characters are sensitively rendered, distinct, and likable. I enjoyed the gentle pacing and development. I read about half of the book imagining that it would be a simple coming of age story with the added tension which often befalls LGBTQ youth. I was wrong. There is, of course, the fraught young love and some drama associated with navigating coming out to family, and trying to maintain a relationship amidst huge life changes (cross country moves, school changes, college/university, etc) but there's also a pretty solid antagonist and mystery along with a satisfying denouement.

I really liked the background stories of Cal's social media presence and reading about the space program and astronauts and their families. I've been a huge NASA nerd since I was a toddler a zillion years ago (my dad was an engineer and space nut) and I spent a lot of the read smiling.

Beautifully written, satisfying, upbeat, and positive. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it unhesitatingly for YA readers who enjoy romance and coming of age novels. The language is R rated, there's some implied sexual content (off scene) as well as sensitively handled discussion of depression, relationships, family issues, etc.

Four stars. Highly recommended.
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I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy of this book. I was very much looking forward to read this story and had such high hopes since it got announced - and I wasn’t let down. 

The Gravity of Us is a book about first love, friendship, passion and what it means to grow back together as a family. 

17-year-old Cal is a successful social media journalist who’s kind of forced to stop this career when his dad got chosen as a pilot for a NASA mission to Mars. The family has to move from New York to Texas. That means for Cal to leave his job and best friend behind. But Cal does not want to give up his right to share things online and starts to rebel from day one. Chaos ensues and along the way he also falls in love...

Overall I really liked the pacing in this book although Cal and Leon’s love felt a bit rushed in the beginning and I couldn’t really connect with Cal. I enjoyed the dynamics in and between the families and their own little support systems. Depression and anxiety are an everyday thing and I’m pleased with how these subjects were approached and handled. That there wasn’t any homophobic drama in this book made me even happier. It was simply a story about a gay teen boy who’s trying to find his way in life. Going through ups and downs and creating a massive social media drama in the middle of it. 

If you enjoy space stuff (I mean, NASA!) and cute boys being cute and in love, I’d definitely recommend reading this book.
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WHAT A STORY.

I don't think I've ever read a book like this before. Sure, the cover looks like your cliché contemporary novel, but...upon finishing the book, I can say with certainty that The Gravity of Us is so much more.

Things I loved:
- Concept: Curious about the world of astronauts? Want to know what it's like to tour NASA? To live as an Astrokid? How about what it's like to be a social media star? Or to fall in love in a place you thought you'd never stay in? This is the book for you.
- Antagonists: Perhaps I need to coin the phrase "Great antagonists make for great books," because I use it. SO. MUCH. I can't say anything about the antagonists in this book in detail because, get this, they're not revealed until much later in the story. Initially, I kept waiting and waiting for some external conflict, and I almost thought that the book would just be ambling on peacefully with petty arguments as the primary conflict. Trust me though, it got heated really fast at the reveal of the antagonist, and Stamper's execution both caught me off guard and greatly pleased me.
- Topics tackled I love how Stamper includes topics that could be considered taboo in some places in Cal's story. Again, I don't want to spoil the book, but there are some pretty important people in this story who deal with financial and relationship problems, depression, and anxiety. The visibility present in this book is incredible. It seemed really realistic, and I love how Stamper acknowledges their problems and pain, but also doesn't put them down.

Things I didn't like:
- Awkward writing Some of the writing seemed a bit...cringey/elementary? Something about it didn't sit right with me. While it didn't interrupt my comprehension of the story (which was absolutely lovely, I repeat), it was definitely something that was nagging me in the back of my mind. I don't think I'll reread this book in the future because of the writing, but I'm certain that if Stamper decides to write another book, I'll pick it up purely because of his ability to conjure up an incredible concept.

Would I recommend this book?
YES. If you're able to get over the small writing issue, this book is totally worth the read! It's a great story, and I think the characters are going to stick with me for a long time. <3
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Unfortunately this was a DNF for me. A big part of the reason was just the wonky formatting of the epub that made it impossible to parse out the Starwatch interviews and bits of the chapters. I tried it on several devices and the format was consistently...inconsistent.
The story itself was...fine, if a bit slow-moving. I liked the complicated family dynamics (Cal's father can yeet himself directly to Mars sans rocket, I will not miss him) and Cal's feistiness and drive. I didn't get far enough in to get to know Leon, but he seemed nice, even though the instalove between him and Cal made my eye twitch a bit.
But overall, it just felt...bland. The writing didn't stand out, nor did the characters. Particularly in 2020 and our current political climate, the idea of a NASA space launch being the biggest deal feels somewhat out of touch, so it was hard for me to get into a headspace where I could accept this (definitely preferable) alternate reality.
I ended up quitting around the 30% mark when the formatting began to frustrate me and the story wasn't interesting enough for me to want to ignore said formatting. I do really love the premise though, so I'm disappointed that the story didn't work for me like I'd hoped it would. That being said, I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy this, and it has my support for its queer rep.
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I loved this book for so many reasons. I liked the way the past, present and future of the space program was portrayed. I can't say I've ever read anything on the space program before so this was a new topic for me. I appreciated how homage was paid to the astronauts and families from the past while still working with present-day issues and complications. And the future is still a quest to achieve.
The media was used in a positive and negative way to move the story along and to show how powerful, manipulative and influential it can be.  
The author did a great job making the characters and their situations real and honest. I went through almost every emotion reading this. Happy, sad, excited, nervous, mad, and hopeful.
I recommend this book for any age. It was a great read.
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Arc received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

While I devoured this book in two days I was still left with a feeling that I was missing some key factors. There was so much rushed throughout this book that I felt like pieces of the puzzle had run away. Cal was a narrator that frequently annoyed the hell out of me. He did and said so many intensive things that I was so close to putting the book down. Leon was the only reason I did not. I wanted to know more about the boy instead of him just having depression. Also, their love story, boy was it a fast one. It went from zero to I love you which was the main reason I felt like there were chapters that I missed. 

What really kept me going were two things. One, the writing was actually quite smooth and kept me reading. Which, has been quite rare for me lately that I had to enjoy it while it lasted. Second, that Mars mission is all my childhood dreams. That type of book was all I read for one summer wishing that I too could live on Mars or the Moon. The premise for this story was just so good that I am sad the rest of it didn't live up to my expectations.
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Y'all know I am a fan of queer stories, a big fan! So obviously I was very excited to receive an egalley of the soon to be released THE GRAVITY OF US by Phil Stamper. It's a queer YA about first love, reality television, and a NASA mission to Mars... to a gay nerd like me this sounds pretty perfect!

THE GRAVITY OF US centers on a high school senior named Cal. Cal lives in NYC and has a huge social media following as a young journalist. Cal's life is thrown out of orbit (sorry, pun intended) when his Dad is selected to serve as an astronaut on a highly publicized mission to Mars and they all must move to Houston, TX. The story follows as Cal simultaneously falls for Leon, another "Astrokid,"  and combats against the reality TV show being filmed about the space mission.

I'll be honest the story was cute but some of it just didn't work for me. It was refreshing that Cal and Leon were gay and that the focus wasn't on them struggling with their sexuality. There are a lot of great stories about queer struggle, this one was just about teens falling in love and figuring out their relationship. I will say that they fell for each other very quickly, it went from them meeting each other and thinking they were cute to being in love in like one page! All in all, I thought the story was more about social media and reality TV than about space travel or queer stories. I found the NASA elements the most unique and interesting but they just weren't the focus of enough of the story.

As our country is on the brink of war, the president has been impeached, and our earth is burning... reading THE GRAVITY OF US about a government and country that is prioritizing a space mission to Mars was sweet and provided an nice escape but also felt totally unbelievable given the current state of our country.

I love any opportunity to support and read books with queer characters by queer authors. Though i wasn't necessarily over the moon about all of THE GRAVITY OF US, overall it was sweet, nerdy and a nice addition to the queer YA canon!
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Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for this ARC!

Phil Stamper's The Gravity of Us is pure rom-com fun. Cal and his family relocate to Austin so that his dad can take part in the Orpheus V project - destined for Mars. In his new home, Cal learns to navigate family tensions, the stardom associated with the project, his hopes for the future, and the excitement of a new crush on neighbor Leon. The book has a heavy focus on social media (Cal is a vlogger) which adds to the immediacy of plot events and their interpretation by characters. My soul complaint would be that this books (like so many YA titles) tries too hard to tick all of the representation boxes. Giving voices to lots of people is a great thing, but Leon's depression felt forced. A cute book to chase away the winter weather blues!
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This book started out at 2 stars for me until about 50% of the way through. 50% of the way through it got so much better, But some of the descriptions in the book went into way too much detail.  Cal was really whiny I understand he was upset about his having to move and leave his best friend but it was almost all too much. 

I could relate to Leon with the depression issues he has and having to please everyone and everything like that. I think Leon was the only relatable character in the book, as far as didn't seem fake half the time. 

The growing relationship between Cal and Leon is completely what gave this book four stars for me they were so cute and perfect for each other. They balance each other out so perfectly so if you are looking for a cute MM romance I really suggest this book
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Okay, full disclosure: I am an Apollo program devotee. Ever since I saw the movie Apollo 13, I have read every book and watched every movie I could get my hands on. As an adult, I recognize that the Apollo program lacked almost any diversity, embraced toxic masculinity, and diverted resources from social programs that could have helped disadvantaged groups. I still can't pass by a book about the program without wanting to read it.

While The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper is not directly about Apollo, it is deeply affected by the fictional Orpheus program that is training to send astronauts to Mars. Cal's dad is a jet pilot who has always been interested in spaceflight, but Cal is shocked when his father is chosen to be a pilot for Orpheus. This means leaving New York, and his burgeoning journalistic success, for Texas. This was definitely not a part of the plan.

However, moving to Houston comes with one, awfully significant advantage: Leon. All of the Orpheus families live in Houston (just like most of the Apollo families) and Leon is the son of another astronaut. He is also incredibly cute. But Leon struggles with depression, just as Cal's mom suffers from severe anxiety, and mental illness is a challenge in any relationship. Cal and Leon's relationship develops quickly and intensely, but teen readers will identify with the passion of early relationships. 

One of the most stimulating and thought-provoking issues tackled in The Gravity of Us concerns journalism. The media – in all its forms – is a powerful tool for anyone who controls it. Whether those in control are people of integrity is another matter entirely. Cal’s online streaming program which he started in New York is gaining more and more viewers. When he moves to Houston, the TV station hired by NASA to cover the Orpheus program, StarWatch, demands that Cal stop posting videos, especially if they concern the program. However, Cal disagrees with the intentions of StarWatch and this becomes a major problem for Cal, his friends, and his family. 

Journalism. Love. Spaceflight. Three topics that are rarely combined as elegantly as in The Gravity of Us.
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I was chosen as an advanced reviewer for The Gravity of Us through NetGalley, so that I could give an early review!  Phil Stamper is also doing a super cool preorder giveaway, where you can get a signed bookplate that has been to space, so make sure to check out his page!

The Gravity of Us begins just as Cal’s world falls apart.  Cal has his whole life planned around achieving his dream of becoming a journalist.  He wants to share the news that matters in a way that cuts through all the confusion of the typical media haze.  His plans are disrupted when his father makes a sudden announcement: he has been selected as a candidate for NASA’s first mission to Mars.    This would be difficult enough for Cal even if it didn’t mean uprooting his life and moving to Houston to be near the other astronauts.  To make matters worse, NASA has paired with a drama TV network, and has gotten into the business of making reality stars out of the astronauts and their families.  Cal doesn’t want to give up everything he’s worked for so far, but when he gets to Houston he begins to realize that there is more than one way to make your dreams reality.  

Phil Stamper has written one of my favorite reads so far this year in The Gravity of Us!  It was a quick read for me, and balanced romance and space with real talk about the difficulties mental illnesses can bring.  I loved the characters, and I found myself rooting for Cal (and the romance he finds) the whole way!

You can get your copy of The Gravity of Us of February 4th from Bloomsberry YA!

My Recommendation-
I would recommend The Gravity of Us to people looking for a sweet LGBTQ romance!  I personally loved the elements of astronaut life included in the book, which also make this a great read for those who like to imaging what it would be like to be an astronaut’s family member.  If you’ve been on the hunt for a quick-paced story to bust you out of a reading slump, The Gravity of Us is a great choice!
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3.7 Stars

I wanted to love this book - and I did, just not as much as I thought I would. Things I loved? The realness of the parents relationships and all the geeky NASA stuff. I learned so much just from this book. I loved Cal and Leon, but the beginning of their relationship felt a bit rushed. I wanted a bit more of a slow burn from them. Cal frustrated me at times, but that’s what made him real. They are teenagers. And teenagers are frustrating ing and their flaws are often judged harshly. This book made me evaluate how I was putting Cal in a box - and he kept showing me that that is not who he is. 

I think that this book was fun, quirky, and sweet. Yes, it takes on mental health - and that is so important. But, I truly enjoyed reading about the two boys falling for each other.
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