Bethan’s Book Of The Month
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
I picked this book up over lockdown for one very simple reason: it features a gay, interracial relationship (I am easily pleased when it comes to YA romance fiction). However, this book had so much more to offer. It’s about love, family, growing up, and space! It follows the story of Cal, a young aspiring journalist who uses social media to tell stories about the goings on in his home in New York. He is forced to move to Houston, Texas when his father is selected to be involved in the upcoming Orpheus mission. The story deals with how Cal feels about leaving his home, his friends, and his career.
Spoilers Start Here
When Cal and his family move to Houston they meet the other AstroKids and their families. They all live in a faux-sixties community where the people and their lives seem just a little too perfect. The experiences of the astronauts and their families are all recorded and published on the Shooting Stars channel. The families host a number of parties where Cal begins to realise the superficial and warped reality that he lives in; he sees the corrupt TV producers for Shooting Star and begins to question what is really happening.
In his time in Houston he meets Leon, a fellow AstroKid, who he quickly develops feelings for. Phil Stamper does an amazing job of writing two young queer characters without allowing them to lose their own individuality and goals. Their relationship is soft and sweet, and they support each other through everything. Right until the end of the story they stand by each other.
Alongside the romantic storyline, Stamper writes a story of corruption and honesty. Cal begins to see how the TV producers use the families and their struggles to make stimulating entertainment. Cal tries to out their behaviour via his online presence, but as they are the sole investor to the Orpheus mission, they threaten to withdraw and stop the mission. However, Stamper reminds us that good wins out: Cal, with the support of those around him, gets the NASA employees to tell his online viewers about what they do and why the mission is important. These scenes made me feel all fuzzy with how passionate they were about their jobs – they represent how, when people come together for a cause they care about, they can make real change.
The book ends beautifully, a happy ending! Cal and Leon are together, the mission is saved, and everyone gets to live happily ever after. The book is a reminder that good wins out, and that honest, good people succeed.
Spoilers End Here
This is Phil Stamper’s first published book only coming out earlier this year but I am already so excited for his next one, due to come out in 2021. He is definitely on his way to being one of the top YA authors of our generation and I am very excited to see him gain many accolades. Even if you wouldn’t normally consider YA fiction I would highly recommend this one. And remember: YA is for everyone!