The Gravity of Us

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2020. 352p. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781547600144.
Gr 7 Up–In a debut novel with credible teen and adult characters, plotting and themes cover a lot of territory. Cal is a Brooklyn teen and a social media phenomenon. When his passenger-pilot father gets the call from NASA to join a Mars probe program, Cal and his mother, who suffers from severe anxiety, have to move with him to Houston. In their new neighborhood, peopled by other astronauts and their families, Cal forgets his best Brooklyn friend while he crushes on new neighbor Leon, who is battling depression. Meanwhile, Cal’s media expertise puts NASA’s affiliation with a reality show to shame. While all these parts work in their moments, the overall effect feels a bit like bingeing on a television series in which important messages are relayed cleverly at a surface level.
VERDICT Given the important issues raised—media responsibility, NASA and politics, friendship and romance, mental health—this has something for a lot of different teen readers.

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