Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith | a star-filled story about two broken teens

again, but better (7)

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith

June 18, 2019 from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Young adult contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?

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2 stars

Unfortunately, Something Like Gravity wasn’t for me. I’d picked up this book because of the trans rep, and not only did I find that the rep was potentially harmful, neither Chris nor Maia’s stories were particularly captivating to me, and I was bored for most of the book.

The book is told in alternating perspectives from Chris and Maia, two teenagers living next to each other in a small town. Both Chris and Maia are dealing with two very life-changing events, which is what brings them together: alienated from the rest of their community, they find comfort in each other because they understand what it’s like to be alone without knowing the history behind it. That they don’t know each other’s histories is, I believe, the driving point behind their relationship, and it also makes their whole conflict possible: namely, both characters keep secrets from each other throughout the book.

Personally, I found Chris and Maia both to be quite frustrating during the book. I did sympathize with both of them, however: both are going through a lot, and it makes a lot of their behaviours understandable. Both of their storylines reflected each other in a very poetic way, which I liked: it definitely lent more weight to the story.

I was, however, definitely the most disappointed by how Chris was written. I’m not transgender, but a lot of the content surrounding Chris made me really uncomfortable. There’s a couple ownvoices reviews that echo these thoughts here and here and I suggest you read those because they say it better than I could ever. But there is a scene where Maia spies on Chris as he changes, which is how Maia finds out that Chris is trans, and I feel like that’s such a common yet harmful trope which was really uncomfortable to read about. Both Chris and Maia are hiding things from each other, but Chris being trans is treated with as much gravity as Maia lying about her hobbies, and it felt very wrong to me to equate the two. In addition, I’m just … tired of reading about queer pain in contemporary novels, and tired of queer identities being held as hostage, so to speak. I know that the author is a lesbian, but she’s cis and so is Maia, and I felt like Maia acted like Chris being transgender was something she used against him. Which isn’t something I particularly enjoy reading about.

This is also a very character-driven novel, which meant that because I wasn’t too into the characters, I was not into the plot, either. Amber Smith’s writing is beautiful, and I’ve heard a lot about her previous books — so I was disappointed that I couldn’t get into the rest of the book like I wanted to.

I feel like Something About Gravity had a lot of potential behind it, but I didn’t find either of its main characters particularly interesting. In addition, the portrayal of Chris as a trans person played into a lot of harmful plotlines and tropes about trans people that made me really uncomfortable.

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content warnings | transphobia, death of a loved one, grief, attempted sexual assault

did you read something like gravity?? what did you think?? what are your favourite books with trans main characters??

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3 thoughts on “Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith | a star-filled story about two broken teens

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