Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper // Or, You Can’t Fix It All And It’s Okay

★★★★ | An exploration of human relationships, chasing your dreams and existing is public and private spaces

“I’m leaving. On Monday. Dad’s a fucking astronaut.”

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Title: The Gravity of Us

Author: Phil Stamper

Publisher: Blumsbury YA

Release Date: February 4th 2020

Pages: 352

Genres: Contemporary / YA / LGBT

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🚀 m/m
🚀 f&m friendship
🚀 social media
🚀 family
🚀 NASA

Cal had it all planned out. A Buzzfeed internship. Covering the best stories for his FlashFeed channel. Moving in with his best and only friend. A careful patch to the perfect career in journalism.

But now everything changed. His dad gets selected by NASA to potentially fly a rocketship to Mars and they’re leaving New York behind.

He has to leave his internship, his friend, and his channel because a certain TV station has the exclusive rights to film astronauts. But then he meets a fellow “Astrokid,” Leon, and Houston isn’t that bad anymore.

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➽ EXPLORATION OF VARIOUS HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS

The Gravity of Us explores various relationships in Cal’s life. His parents and the arguments between them. The long distance friendship he has with the girl he is used to seeing every day. His first love. 

It’s a great variety but all of them are given enough spotlight to fully develop and have their ups and downs. 

We are social creatures and finding our footing with other people is a huge part of our life. We need to learn to understand each other. To say when we’re lonely or missing something. To set our boundaries and accept the boundaries of other people.

Cal navigates all of this and makes mistakes and gets to learn from them. 

➽ THE PUBLIC FACE

In the era of social media we all have a public face. We choose what to share and how to cultivate our internet persona. We choose what photos to post on insta. We choose what aspects of us we talk about here. Cal used his platform to share his passion in journalism and he loved it. He loved the attention. The self of accomplishment. The influence he had.

However, then he is trust into the world of media and he gets to witness how different the rules are. He no longer gets to choose what is for the public and what is his alone. 

I think all of us benefit from questioning ourselves what do I want to share and what do I want to keep? when do I document the moment and when I simply live in it? Choosing to keep parts of us out of the eye of the public does not take away from our social presence and we deserve to have things which are just ours.

➽ CHASING A DREAM

The dream. The goal. The vague idea of what one wants out of their life. 

Cal was planning his life carefully. He set his sight on one possible future and when he hits a huge setback it’s as if the ground disappears underneath his feet. His father got a one in a million chance to fullfil a dream he never thought would come through and refuses to let it slip through his fingers. Leon is experiencing a burnout before he even finishes the high school.

I relate to each of those–I plan things anxiously to feel like I’m in control. I keep my dreams neatly tucked away for maybe the opportunity comes my way. I loose all the things I love to my depression and desperatly try to grasp on something–anything.

We all have our passions. This little something that just lights us up inside and keeps us going. Sometimes we get to live it and sometimes we keep it inside to warm us up in the rush of the ordinary life. Sometimes it dims or fades completely but humans are meant to want and inaction can be only temporary. 

This is a huge part of this novel. Having dreams. Reaching for them. Letting people have dreams of their own. But also, being patient and letting them figure it out.

➽ TO FIX OR NOT TO FIX

Cal fixes things. He is the one with the plan. He makes it better. 

But you can’t fix everything. You can’t fix people — they are not broken in the first place.

He can’t fix his mother’s anxiety and his father’s rash decisions.

He can’t fix Deb’s money problems.

He can’t fix Leon’s depression. He can’t kiss it away. He can’t coach him into planning out his future with such precision as Cal does.

It is not his to fix.

But that doesn’t mean there are no things which can be fixed and Cal just needs to realise how to approach the change.

“The tug in my chest illustrates my struggle, my compulsion to fix things and make it better. That’s what makes it so special. I’m learning, not fixing. For once, I’m listening–or at least, trying to.”

Have you read The Gravity of Us? Are you planning to?

–E.

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7 thoughts on “Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper // Or, You Can’t Fix It All And It’s Okay

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