Letting Go of Gravity is a book with a very teen romance without some of the usual teen romance (she barely kisses the love interest, but there is a spark between them), and a book that is also dealing with family and expectations that they place on us and that we place on ourselves. Not all characters are a 100% likable as they can be typical characters; sometimes even almost stereotypical, but they are not horrible people either. There are several obvious plot points and solutions but, in the end, it could not go any other way.
I wonder if Meg Leder (author) is (or was) the character Parker, our narrator. Parker is the “younger twin” to her brother, Charlie (who does not let her forget that) and yes, Charlie Parker is the inspiration. However, there are only moments when that fact comes into play. Sometimes even forced into the conversation. I wonder if they, like Parker, felt the pressures of A) being the perfect daughter and B) felt the pressure of keeping that status as she cannot let her family worry about her like they have to Charlie. Did they have to deal with a grandmother like Parker’s who at one point tells her, “Be strong and don’t give your parents trouble” basically during Charlie’s first round of cancer? Or later, had a father like Parker’s who informs her that she is being selfish on their trip to see Charlie in the hospital, when she is basically being a 9-year-old kid who is hungry. And had to deal with his pride when she says she will be a doctor to cure Charlie and at the same time, redeeming herself in his eyes. I wonder if she had a brother like Charlie, who at a young age is diagnosed with cancer, making him the center of everyone’s attention. Then, who had a bad remission, making him even more so the center of attention. And did she have a family member tell her a story about the Gravity People (a metaphor for being “safe” on the ground or “possibly unsafe” if you fly off to adventures).
The story has been done before: Parker, finally realizes that becoming a doctor (or fill in the thing she/main character is expected to do) is not for her. She lies to everyone about what she is really doing during the summer between high school and college, meets and old school friend, meets a few new friends, and learns where she belongs. There is the side story of Charlie through Parker’s eyes, and the new friend who (spoiler/plot point) is in a serious situation with his older brother. There is also the best friends of both Charlie and Parker are in Europe on their “adventure summer” before college storyline that felt a little forced in places.
It is all pat and perfect by the end. However, the part that I most liked was the ending. It was not exactly predictable (a plus!), but a good ending. Parker is “self-sacrificing” still, but the fact (spoiler) she does not “get the guy” was refreshing. The other part of the story that was fun to read is when Parker finds herself at a pottery studio helping the owner with a senior citizens group that comes there to paint pottery and “get out” of the nursing home. Of course, it is obvious this is what Parker is “meant to do” the second it happens, but still it was fun to see these people and their situations.
It is a fourteen and up teen “beach read” or “chick lit read.” It is stereotypical of that genre, but there is nothing wrong with that. It is a comfort read, just not one I was “jumping up and down” over.
(If you haven’t guessed, all images “borrowed” from the internet).