Gravity is the Thing…
About the Book:
Abigail Sorensen has spent her life trying to unwrap the events of 1990.
It was the year she started receiving random chapters from a self-help book called The Guidebook in the post.
It was also the year Robert, her brother, disappeared on the eve of her sixteenth birthday.
She believes the absurdity of The Guidebook and the mystery of her brother’s disappearance must be connected.
Now thirty-five, owner of The Happiness Café and mother of four-year-old Oscar, Abigail has been invited to learn the truth behind The Guidebook at an all-expenses-paid retreat.
What she finds will be unexpected, life-affirming, and heartbreaking.
A story with extraordinary heart, warmth and wisdom.
What an unexpected joy this novel turned out to be. I went into it fairly blind as to the plot and not at all familiar with the writing of Jaclyn Moriarty. But there were plenty of cover quotes telling me how astonishing, extraordinary, beautiful, uplifting, unique and wonderful that this novel was. And it really was. All of that and more. It’s heartbreakingly honest and beautifully life-affirming. I loved it so much that it’s become one of my favourite reads ever. Yes, ever. That’s how much I loved it.
“I don’t want a man to save me; I am happy with myself. Only, this longing for physical contact is real, a shape with dimension, and it’s all on a continuum with longing for closeness, for friendship, connection, for love. It’s a yearning that reaches back to lost best friends, lost brothers, lost birthdays, lost birthday wishes.”
I really enjoyed the way Jaclyn Moriarty writes. She makes full use of style and punctuation within her narrative. Italics for emphasis and plenty of exclamation points for tone and wit. It’s very clever and not in any way overdone. You really get a true sense of not only what a person is saying but how they’re saying it, allowing for a lot of reading between the lines. The same applies to all of Abigail’s internal dialogue, which was very amusing, and highly relatable. The chapter lengths are also used really well, some being only a sentence long, making their point with short impact, while others are quite in-depth, offering key moments of backstory. With extracts from “The Guidebook” and key reflections on Abigail’s life, this novel is arranged brilliantly, like a quilt with its pieces being stitched together, a little hodge-podge at times until all of sudden you realise that there’s nothing random going on here at all. And it’s funny. So funny, with a sharply clever wit.
“There were two important things about the approaching year 2000: first, the pressure that the artist formerly known as Prince had placed on us by defining the ultimate party as that which takes place on the last day of 1999; and second, the fact that the world was going to be wiped out by the millennium bug (presumably while throwing Prince’s party).”
There are so many themes running through this novel that readers can relate to, and Jaclyn writes with such empathy, that it becomes virtually impossible to not feel everything that Abigail is feeling; she really does put the reader into her main character’s shoes. Loss is examined within many contexts within this novel, and I was struck by how defining a missing family member can be on your life. That absence of closure is such a weight to bear, manifesting itself in so many ‘what ifs’ that all lead to the same road of blaming yourself for things you said or didn’t say, things you could have done differently. I appreciated how Abigail highlighted the ways in which she had not been able to grieve for both her brother and the loss of her husband, because both of these losses were out of the range of ‘normal’. Likening this to Wilbur’s loss and experiences of grief was profound. Poor old Wilbur, trying his hardest to honour his parent’s legacy despite the absurdity of it. He really was a special guy and I liked him a lot. Much of this story is about human connection and there are some excellent scenes where this is demonstrated. I especially loved a scene towards the end that is the very definition of kindness to a stranger in action. It kind of made me want to jump up and clap while grabbing for the tissues – actually, the whole novel kind of made me want to do that!
“I studied his smile and I saw that two unstable people had built a gossamer house and left it to their son, who had got to work plastering the walls with his own loss. These classes had been built on bewilderment: our own, Wilbur’s parents, Wilbur’s.”
There’s just so much to enjoy within this novel, even when it’s being sad and making you cry! Sometimes it made me laugh while I still had the sad tears raining down my face, and that’s a special kind of novel that can do that. I have deliberately avoided commenting on the plot here because this is one novel you just want to experience without spoilers; less is best, in this case. But I urge everyone to read it, no matter what genre you usually prefer, as this is one novel that has universal appeal, one of those brilliant rare ones that I will quite happily recommend to all.
Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of Gravity is the Thing for review.
About the Author:
Jaclyn Moriarty is the author of bestselling novels for young adults and adults, including the ‘Ashbury-Brookfield’ books. Her books have been named Best Books for Young Adults by the American Librarian Association and translated into several languages. The first and second books in The Colours of Madeleine trilogy, A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom, won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the Queensland Literary Award, and both were nominated for a number of other prizes. The Cracks in the Kingdom won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel. Jaclyn grew up in Sydney, lived in the US, England and Canada, and now lives in Sydney again.
Gravity is the Thing
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released on 26th March 2019