TITLE: Something Like Gravity
AUTHOR: Amber Smith
AGE RANGE: YA
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?
Whew. Okay. Let me start with two things:
- I am genuinely so sorry to any of my trans friends who may have been hurt by my initial positive rating/remarks about this book. I was seeing things through an incredibly ignorant (and cis) lens. This is one of those instances that reminded me that, when it comes to books that are not own-voice, I should really be looking for own-voice reviews before I start recommending these titles to others.
- Honestly, feel free to stop reading my review here and check out the own-voice reviews here and here, because they touch on points that I would never have thought to criticize this work for (like the improper usage of a binder that seems to not have been well-researched at all on the author’s part).
Something Like Gravity strikes me as the perfect example of why many (not ALL, but MANY) authors aren’t capable of writing proper representation outside of their own lanes. What I thought was well-intended (if sometimes problematic) trans rep from a cis author is being called out by many own-voice reviewers as being very poor representation, and that hurts my heart, because I know there are own-voice books with trans representation that aren’t getting the hype and marketing this book has received.
When I first finished the book, I gave it 4 stars because I had enjoyed it for the most part. Even to my misguided reading, there were some major issues I had (such as the trans character being outed without consent by another character spying on them while they changed clothes – I honestly almost DNFed the ARC at this point because it was so out of left field and infuriated me, but I kept going because I hoped it would be addressed fully later. Now I’ve come to realize that not only was it not handled well, but frankly, it shouldn’t have happened at all, at least not without TWs for trans readers who could be immensely triggered by it). That said, I thought the characters were fairly likeable and I think Smith’s prose is really lovely.
After reading multiple own-voice reviews, though, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of issues with this book — but that’s not the only reason I changed my rating. I finished this book about 2 months ago at the time I’m reviewing it, and it has been so immensely un-memorable that I literally forgot it was on my “RTC” shelf until earlier today. When I sat down to review it, I struggled to even remember what had happened because, in hindsight, these characters and this romance are bland. Maia is low-key awful, Chris’ entire personality revolves around 10% PTSD, 90% running (and there are some comments made about Chris’ views of his own body that are a struggle), the plot is mostly non-existent, and I couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of the side characters if my life depended on it.
All in all, this was a mediocre book made worse by poorly-researched representation. I definitely want to try more of Amber Smith’s work because, like I said, her narrative voice itself is really nice and I’ve heard many people say her plots and characters are usually a lot better than this. But… yeah, this one didn’t do anyone any favors.
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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