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Letting Go of Gravity

Review

Letting Go of Gravity

When Parker graduates, she should be celebrating. As the Valedictorian who is heading to Harvard, her cautious, hardworking attitude seems to have paid off. More important than all that, however, is the fact that her twin brother, Charlie, is finally in remission after suffering from leukemia twice in the last 18 years. But even though Charlie’s cancer is gone, he’s still struggling to reconnect with his family and himself, severing the ties between him and Parker that she used to rely on. While their differences seemed to complement each other when they were younger, two halves of a whole, now they seem to create an insurmountable divide between Parker and Charlie --- a divide that seems to be growing. As Parker becomes more cautious, Charlie finds more ways to push himself to the limit and break the rules. Navigating the summer before college while fighting her own internal struggles and clashing with her brother, Parker meets new individuals who help her to reexamine herself, and her choices, before they have real consequences.

"LETTING GO OF GRAVITY explores relevant, important issues, punctuated by lighthearted moments that elevate the mood of the story."

In LETTING GO OF GRAVITY, Meg Leder tackles serious and relatable issues from the perspective of a teenager on the brink of adulthood. One of the most applicable struggles that Parker faces is the feeling of pressure to succeed, to live up to unstated expectations. Although she thinks she knows where she wants her life to go, she starts to question the decisions she’s made, a conflict that will resonate with many teens, and one that conveys powerful and important themes to the reader --- plans aren’t carved in marble like they’re often expected to be, and they don’t have to be treated like they are. Additionally, Leder’s novel also highlights the struggles of battling a serious illness, including the emotional baggage that lingers even after the disease subsides, and the story also expands to focus on the aftermath for a family as well, examining the problems that still remain after the temporary celebration subsides.

Layered among these serious topics, however, Leder includes thoroughly enjoyable secondary characters that distinguish the novel from similar stories. Parker’s interactions with some of the elderly individuals in her community add a lighthearted note to the story --- and plenty of humorous drama! The other teens in Leder’s novel surrounding Parker and Charlie are also entertaining and sincere, and provide openings for Leder to discuss additional issues including mental health and dysfunctional families. The minor characters of the story may be more appealing to readers than the main characters; although Parker deals with relatable issues, her character lacks the nuance that would make her more compelling and realistic. Sometimes her growth as a character feels forced, enhanced by strong symbolism and metaphors, lacking the subtlety of the maturation of the minor characters.

For all of its focus on important issues, however, LETTING GO OF GRAVITY struggles in its pacing at times, particularly the ending --- the resolution happens too quickly in comparison to the rest of the book and still leaves some issues unresolved. This makes the ending of the story less satisfying than if the conflicts had been settled more slowly and fully. 

As a whole, LETTING GO OF GRAVITY explores relevant, important issues, punctuated by lighthearted moments that elevate the mood of the story. The novel will resonate with teens who enjoy stories with imperfect protagonists, family relationships, and a touch of romance. For anyone looking for a story of self-discovery, Meg Leder’s LETTING GO OF GRAVITY provides a look at a vulnerable teen on the brink of adulthood.

Reviewed by Rachel R., Teen Board Member on July 11, 2018

Letting Go of Gravity
by Meg Leder