LETTING GO OF GRAVITY
Excuse me for a minute while I get my feels under control. Because that's what this book has done to me: given me heart wrenching, take a deep breath, feels.
I had a really hard time writing a review for this book because it hit me hard. It hit me in the feels, the way All the Bright Places did, and I wanted to read it again immediately and simultaneously rip out my heart and offer it to my own brother.
The story follows Parker McCullough and her relationship with her twin brother, Charlie, and herself. When Charlie is diagnosed with cancer at a young age, and then again when they're teenagers, their relationship changes irrevocably. Deeply, overly cautious Parker can't help but worry– about Charlie's health, if he's doing the right thing and taking care of himself, about snakes in the yard and her father's happiness. She's worried about everything because that's how she's learned to be, and though she always has good intentions, the worry she feels about Charlie drives a wedge further and further between them until they can hardly stand to be around each other, until they hardly know each other. And Parker's concern with doing the right thing affects her, too. On track to attend Harvard as pre-med and accepted into a highly competitive summer internship, Parker has repeated panic attacks that make her feel like she's dying. Which begs the question, is doing the right thing right when it hurts so much?
This book explores how hard it is to have someone you love become sick. How helpless you feel and the way it's natural to try to control the things that you can. You can control what you grow up to be, the school you go to, how hard you study. But as anyone with a sibling knows, it's hard to control a brother or a sister, and sometimes you lash out and remove the choice from them. And that's something I both admired and hated about Parker's character– she has a deep love, a deep worry, for her twin brother and sometimes that's overbearing. She's so blinded by doing the right thing that she loses sight of who her actions are right for. They're certainly not right for her, they're not right for her brother, either. Along the same lines, it explores what happens when the worst doesn't happen. What happens when the person you love is no longer sick? When they're fine? Can you ever really go back to "the way things were" and the people you used to be? Deep down, we all know the answer, but it's another instance of coming to terms with yourself, with others, and how relationships can change over time. How hard acceptance can be and the aftermath of significant change.
To keep these heavy themes going strong, we also dive deep into Parker's relationship/friendship with Finn, a boy she used to know, who leaves artistic messages along the sides of bridges and buildings. She starts to wonder and discover who she really is once she sets aside who she used to be. She opens up as a person and discovers a loyalty outside of her brother. And ultimately, she learns that yes, sometimes (especially) when it hurts like hell, you're still doing the right thing.
This isn't a romantic love story, so take it somewhere else if you're looking for a couple to ship. But if you want to read YA where one character struggles with who she is despite expectations put upon herself and by her parents, another character struggles with who he is after being irrevocably changed by no fault of his own, and another character suffer under the weight of their family, and how they navigate their way(s) back to each other, then this one is for you. If you know what it feels like to worry so much about your future that it feels like a weight is pressing against your chest, if you ever had a sibling that you love so much you just want to keep them in a safe bubble where nothing can hurt them anymore, if you've ever had to make a tough decision that you know is right but won't work out well for you in the end, then this one. This one. Letting Go of Gravity is for you.
Star rating: 5/5