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Something Like Gravity

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Something Like Gravity Book Poster Image
Transgender teen finds his first love in sweet romance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story offers insights into the challenges (and even dangers) of beginning to live a new life as transgender. It also shows readers how many experiences and challenges teens have in common, no matter their sexual orientation: conflicts with parents, problems with close friends, grieving the loss of someone they love, falling in love for the first time.

Positive Messages

Love the person. Look beyond the labels people think should define someone.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chris is is smart determined, and kind. He has many challenges in his new life as a teen boy, including how to make a girl like him and how he should behave toward her when she likes him back. Once he begins dating Maia and they begin to move beyond simply kissing, he's very conscious of treating her respectfully, always getting her consent -- making certain he's not doing anything that would make her feel uncomfortable.

 

Violence

An intense and sometimes graphic flashback recounts how Chris was severely beaten (a fractured spine, broken ribs, surgery on his nose and eye socket) and groped by a group of classmates.

Sex

Chris and Maia kiss and begin to explore each other sexually (touching of breasts and hands sliding into underwear). As things progress, one of them always pauses to ask, "Is this okay?" or "Are you sure?"

Language

A fair bit of profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "dyke," "Jesus," "goddamn.")

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens party and get drunk. Maia worries that her mother is drinking too much. Her sister Mallory regularly smoked marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amber Smith's Something Like Gravity is a sweet summer romance between a Chris, a transgender teen, and Maia, the girl who lives next door. After being severely beaten by classmates at his high school, Chris goes to spend the summer with his aunt, who lives in a tiny town in North Carolina, where he meets Maia, who has secrets and problems of her own. Her older sister's sudden death has upended her world and her parents have recently divorced. As their friendship begins to move into something more, they must decide how many of their secrets they want to share with each other. Chris and Maia kiss and begin to explore each other sexually (touching of breasts and hands sliding into underwear). A sometimes graphic flashback recounts how Chris suffered a fractured spine and broken ribs from the beating. There's some profanity ("f—k," "s—t," "a—hole," "dyke") and teens get drunk and smoke marijuana.

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What's the story?

As SOMETHING LIKE GRAVITY begins, Chris, a transgender teen from Buffalo, New York, has come to spend the summer with his Aunt Isobel in Carson, a tiny North Carolina town. He's still getting over the physical and emotional trauma of being severely beaten by some classmates the year before and is at odds with his mother, who's not accepted his decision to come out as transgender. A summer with his supportive and understanding aunt seems the best choice for everyone. A summer where everyone will assume he's a boy. Chris, a runner and astronomy nerd, doesn't have high expectations for his time in Carson and certainly doesn't expect to fall in love for the first time. Then he meets Maia, the girl next door, who's struggling after a family tragedy. Her older sister Mallory, a gifted photographer, died suddenly during a high school volleyball game, and in the aftermath she's getting little emotional support from her divorced parents, who've been forced by finances to continue living together in the family home. Maia is trying to reconnect with Mallory through the photographs she left behind and has no interest in a new friend or a new romance. But as they begin to open up to each other, romance does blossom, even after Chris reveals to Maia that he's transgender.

Is it any good?

More than a transgender romance, this is a simple and sensitively told story about first love, finding your own identity, acceptance, and grief. Chris and Maia's storylines in Something Like Gravity also tackle some serious issues often faced by teens: bullying, conflicts with parents, and the hurt that can come from changing relationships with their closest friends.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differing reactions to Chris' coming out in Something Like Gravity. Why do you think his mother was so upset and angry while his father and aunt accepted his new identity? If one of your closest friends came out as transgender, would it affect your friendship?

  • How do you think the media (TV, movies, books) and social media has influenced the way people view transgender teens and adults? Has it made people more tolerant or fueled intolerance?

  • As Chris and Maia become more intimate, "consent" becomes an important element in their relationship. What do you think "consent" means? Do you think there's only one definition or can it change from relationship to relationship?

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