I saw this book on a blog (I can’t remember which one I read so many that afternoon) that was recommending some LGBTQ+ books to read, and The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer was on that list. I started reading it when I went to bed, thinking I could just start the book and then actually sleep at a reasonable time.
I think I need to re-introduce myself, to myself. Since when have I ever started a book and not spent at least two hours reading it? Even if I am not enjoying the book? It’s like taking Serena Campbell to a restaurant with an “extensive” wine list and being surprised she has a hangover the next day. (If I could GIF, I’d inset the appropriate Holby City Berena Gif right here. Alas, that is beyond me)
The Gravity Between Us is about two friends, best friends, friends since childhood out in New Jersey. Except Kendall is an up and coming Hollywood Actress rapidly becoming an A-Lister, and Payton is a fledgling musician who just wants to make it through college. Best friends. When Kendall comes home for a trip, Payton comes out to her and its all ok, life goes on. The next time she is home, Kendall invites Payton to live in LA with her, offering to pay for university tuition at the best college for film scores in the country. So Kendall and Payton live up the good girl A-Lister lifestyle in LA. In this world focussed on Kendall, they need each other more than ever, but secrets have a way of breaking free, and breaking hearts.
It’s a lesbian contemporary YA – sorry “New Adult” (is that a thing now?), so I don’t really get why it’s rated 17+. I mean, ok, there’s a bit of swearing, and yes, sex, but I’ve read a lot of bad YA books with that in too (Everything Everything comes to mind for the pointless sex). The “mature themes” appear to just be lesbianism and homophobia. Ok, and a bit of sex. Its a 15+, not an x-rated, sneak in while the lights are out movie. Initial rant over.
This was a ok-good, not great, not planning on picking it up again but I’m glad I’ve read it – book (that would be a O-GNGNPOPIUABIGIRI book). The point of view switches each chapter between Kendall and Payton, which is really good, because it follows Payton’s coming out, and fears and emotions towards Kendall, and then follows Kendall’s realising she is in love, jealousy, fear and the cocktail of late teenage emotions. It is a good way of setting up how different people react to coming out. So, well set up. The first person narration, and the switch in first person, makes for a better read, more personal and more confusing (just like emotions!).
Kendall can be incredibly bratty, and Payton incredibly insecure. The plot was a fairly frequently used one – falling in love with your best friend, with the added struggles of keeping it under wraps to avoid the wrath of star-studded Hollywood and a global fanbase. It’s a falling for your best friend plus coming out story. The characters can be very amusing, and they are sweet, even if the are both apparently more beautiful than Aphrodite (commented on a lot) but their friendship seems to be pretty solid and the first person narrative means you like them, even when Kendall is being a brat.
The pacing was a bit off towards the end. The build up to the middle was really good, lots of teenage angst (and the requisite sex) and a nice middle but then some big stuff goes down with the paps and suddenly everything isn’t rosy anymore – real life has come knocking! And they don’t deal with it all that well – and suddenly everything isn’t fine and then suddenly it is because it all gets fixed after a requisite time crying and shutting the world out… it’s not all that good on the emotional independence side, thinking about it… lots of co-dependency going on.
But, it was better than many YA books I have read that I have been told are the dogs doodahs and I felt were dog’s entrails. The Gravity Between Us may have been rushed at spaces, but the emotions were done well, like the fear of telling family and friends and wondering if it’s just proximity or you really like that person and holy mary, joseph and the camel I’m jealous. It’s a trashy YA romance novel, and it’s great because it’s a trashy lesbian romance novel without the super explicit sex scenes and overly fetishized so I stake that as a win – it’s not always a guarantee.
That being said – there were some problematic elements – Kendell buys Payton everything and I get she’s super rich now and wants to give her oldest friend the best of everything, but she doesn’t really listen when Payton insists it’s too much and also Payton slips into rich life super quick. I’d have thought it would have taken her longer to adjust, rather than a few pointed comments when she first arrives and then very little after that. She does start being more funny about money towards the end again, but for the most part – you want to buy me a designer dress? Ok.
I’ll be straight with you (pun not intended) there were lots of good things and lots of bad things about this novel and somehow this review has really gotten away with me trying to decide. On G
oodreads, I gave it a 3* – because I did enjoy it – I read most of it in three hours and the rest waiting for my bus to work. But there were also elements I didn’t enjoy where I huffed at how cliché or how overdone or how annoying certain things were. It’s a mixed bag – lucky dip. You could think you’ve struck gold, you could think you’ve struck copper or maybe you think it’s a handful of dirt.
Although, anyone got any LGBTQ+ recommendations for me?