Saturday, August 18, 2018

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites.

Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.

Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.

Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.

And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got leukemia. Parker didn’t.

But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.

Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.

That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.

“I like thinking of time that way—that it’s a little more fluid in Spanish. Like maybe to start thinking about the future, you need to think about the possibility in the right now, you know?”
Okay, so I originally read and reviewed this book for a blog tour (you can find my initial thoughts here), but I couldn't definitively express my overall feelings. There were things I enjoyed about the book, but there were also a lot of things that really got underneath my skin. What was my solution? Read it again. I feel like I understand Parker a little more now, but I still think she was a terrible friend, sister, and daughter.

Let me elaborate... Parker's twin, Charlie, should have been her equal, but he came across like a younger brother she was trying to protect. I know that deep down her choices came from a good place, and she genuinely thought she was helping, but she only ever made things worse for him. He was old enough to make his own decisions, whatever they may be, but she didn't allow him that freedom. Tattletale. She always had to go behind his back and announce his personal, private business to the world. If I were Charlie, I would have been pissed, too.

Despite feeling like she had to tell on Charlie for the slightest misstep, she kept her own secrets. Her brother wasn't allowed to keep anything to himself, but she could withhold super important information and justify it by saying it was too difficult to talk about. Ugh. Parker also had the very best friend, Em, but she treated her like garbage for being truthful and trying to get Parker to do the right thing. Em was traveling abroad with her cousin, but she still made time for her friend. Her emails were sweet and detailed her adventures, but they also encouraged Parker to be honest with her parents. This was something Parker didn't want to do, and she admits that she doesn't want to be reminded of it, so she just ignores her. Em talked about so much more than that in her emails, but Parker couldn't respond at all? It was so frustrating to watch. I wanted to smack Parker in the face!

The secondary characters in this book were treasures! Ruby, Em, Matty, Carla, and all of the people from the retirement home. I loved those old ladies (and Henry)! They were hilarious and really added another layer to the story. It's clear that the women are dealing with their own issues, and it was nice seeing Parker try to mend their relationships. At first, she just tried to spice up their days with new craft ideas, but it eventually morphed into something else.

Charlie's story is a sad one, and he has every right to be angry with the world. Finn's past is equally (if not more) tragic, and I enjoyed learning more about him as the story progressed. We can't choose where we come from, but we can decide where we are going. It was nice to see Finn take control of his future and his present.

I thought the author did a wonderful job conveying Parker's anxiety. I would start feeling anxious myself when Parker's eye would start twitching. Her inner turmoil felt tangible. I could feel my palms sweating and my heart racing, which gave me a better idea of what Parker was going through.

In the end, I still can't decide how I feel about Letting Go of Gravity. One, I think Parker and Charlie's grandmother should really refrain from telling that specific story to children. Two, Parker wasn't a very likable character, but I don't think she was supposed to be. Instead, she offered a realistic perspective of a person dealing with anxiety and feeling trapped in their current situation. She didn't see a way out for herself even though I felt there were clear alternatives. Three, I felt like the book was a little longer than it needed to be. There was a lot of filler that could have been left out, because at times it felt like the story crawled from chapter to chapter.

It's weird... not knowing exactly how I feel about a book. Did I like it? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not a third time, no. Was there an important message? Yes. The story is good. It was very thought-provoking and authentic. I wish Parker had made different choices, but then there wouldn't have been much of a story. It was an interesting read with a unique perspective, and I think the author makes a lot of valid points. Life is too short to spend it doing something we hate. We also need to be able to forgive ourselves and others, or the world is going to be a lonely place.

Wow... the ending... it was exactly what this book needed and deserved.


  1. It's difficult to review a book that we just aren't sure what we feel about it! I read one this week and I keep swinging between two ratings and debating if I liked it or not-it's confusing!

    1. It is! I was having a hard time expressing my thoughts and feelings on this one. There's just so much going on, and it was hard to separate all those emotions and nail down exactly how the book made me feel. It was a really great story, though. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to the characters and what they're going through. A lot of people feel the need to choose a specific path in life, because it will make others happy. Other people feel guilty when family or friends change what they're doing in order to accommodate them. There's... a lot. It would take days to adequately convey all of my thoughts.

  2. I love a book that can have me feeling so conflicted. That shows me that the author created some truly multi-layered and flawed characters and made them realistic enough that it was easy to see both the good and the bad in them. That being said, Parker sounds a frustrating character who operated on some serious double standards. She ratted out her brother constantly... while keeping her own secrets. It makes me feel for Charlie without having even read the book. Great review/analysis of this one, Lindsi.
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    1. Me too! After I read this one the first time I just sat there and thought about everything that had just happened. I'm pretty sure I spaced out still holding my iPad in my hands, but there was lot to mull over. The story and the characters are both incredibly complex, and it was hard to definitively say whether their actions were right or wrong. I could clearly see why each character felt like they were doing the right thing, but I also knew why their decisions were flawed. It was an amazing read. Truly.

      Parker was obnoxious at times, but it was easy to see why she didn't want to think about life. She wanted to separate herself from herself, which isn't something you can do. She just kept putting off the inevitable until everything blew up in her face. She also knew something felt off about herself, but never asked for help or sought advice. She wanted to ignore everything about herself, but micromanage her brother's life. It wasn't fair. It was easy to see Charlie's frustrations and insecurities. He didn't need his twin throwing him under the bus, too.

      I think this is one you'd really enjoy, Tanya! Also, when I posted my review on Goodreads, I saw Sam had rated this one highly as well. <3

  3. I haven't read it but it sounds interesting even if you don't know how you feel abut it.

    1. I think it's a wonderful book! You should check it out if it sounds interesting. :)

  4. This book was so emotionally satisfying for me. I really enjoyed it. I docked it half a star for the ending, because although it was good, it wasn't what I wanted.

    1. The ending wasn't what I wanted either, but it still felt right for both of them. I like that Parker finally acknowledged how her actions were having a negative impact on her brother, but hate that it took her so long to realize it. Everyone and their dog kept trying to tell her what she needed to do, or asking her to just leave something alone, but she always thought she new best -- so frustrating.

      I found it difficult to really like Parker, and I never felt invested in her relationship with Finn. I think they both needed each other, but they also needed time to figure out who they were alone. Parker made some serious life changes at the end (and I think she could/should have done things a little differently), but like you said... this book was so emotionally satisfying. I'm happy with it overall, but needed to read it a second time to better understand how I felt about it.

  5. I like the sound of this story, and the twin aspect especially intrigues me, but Parker does sound like a really hard character to get behind. I don't like her double standards!

    1. I wasn't able to justify her decisions even though she was able to. There were clearly other options, and her brother's happiness should have been more of a concern. It was his sickness to deal with, and his life to live, so she shouldn't have been trying to control what he did or didn't do. When their situations were reversed, Charlie respected her privacy and allowed her to deal with things in her own way, and on her terms. He loved his sister, and his anger towards her was completely understandable. Even at the end, he still put her well-being above his own.

      Interesting story, though!


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