Gravity

( 2 )

Overview

"All through dinner a silent rage courses through me. Judaism says I am an abomination, yet God and His commandments are supposed to be good. Mrs. Lowenstein says I can change, but I've tried and it didn't work. Neshama says God is just an idea made up by stupid men who say women can't love other women. What is God anyway? Some big guy in the sky? The creator? Creator of what? I know dinosaur bones are older than the Torah."

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Gravity

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Overview

"All through dinner a silent rage courses through me. Judaism says I am an abomination, yet God and His commandments are supposed to be good. Mrs. Lowenstein says I can change, but I've tried and it didn't work. Neshama says God is just an idea made up by stupid men who say women can't love other women. What is God anyway? Some big guy in the sky? The creator? Creator of what? I know dinosaur bones are older than the Torah."

Winner of So You Think You Can Write? Orca Book Publishers Novel contest.

Is there any room in Orthodox Judaism for a distinctly unorthodox Jewish teenager? Ellie Gold has always embraced her faith-at least until she meets Lindsay. Faced with denying her sexuality or abandoning her community, Ellie looks to her mother, sister and grandmother to guide her, but in the end, her decisions are all her own.

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Editorial Reviews

Tablet Magazine
"Thoughtful, quirky, and moving."
The StarPhoenix
"A complex and sensitive read for mature teens."
The Rover
"In Gravity we ascend dizzying orgasmic heights and descend to the depths of adolescent agony. It is a novel one can only hope will find its synchronistic way into the hands of the many young people, especially gays and lesbians, who struggle in silence to reconcile their spiritual faith with their hearts' desire."
The Bookmark (BCTLA)
"How [Ellie] copes with the internal conflicts is beautifully and compellingly written by first time novelist Leanne Lieberman. Ellie's character is well rounded and refreshingly different from many female teen protagonists...As a Canadian novel focusing on coming out as a lesbian, this book should be included in a high school library collection."
What If? Magazine
"Lieberman is a unique author who ably accomplished writing about a topic that isn't easy to discuss...The book was very appealing and I found it hard to put down."
CD Syndicated
"Gravity is so spot-on in plot, character and motivation that it could be both a novel and the screenplay it's very likely to become. This is a fascinating book - provocative, accessible and taking you where you probably haven't gone before."
Canadian Literature
"A page-turner in which vivid description furthers the development of character and plot…In advocating for a heightened ecological emphasis in Judaism, Ellie displays genuine caring and shows that conscious, rather than automatic, responses are what keep any practice alive."
TeensReadToo.com
"Lieberman successfully develops her characters, and does not shy away from the lust commonly experienced by teenagers...An excellent work."
CM Magazine
"Ellie is a memorable protagonist...any teenager, particularly girls whose family life centres on religion of any sort will connect with Ellie's story."
The Jewish Independant
Gravity is a compelling, well-written story that... leaves readers wanting more - and, rightly so, leaves them to draw their own conclusions about whether orthodoxy and homosexuality can coexist.
— Cynthia Ramsay
Resource Links
"This novel explores the world of Orthodox Judaism...[a] powerful book."
Globe and Mail
"Lieberman's confidence is impressive. She is in complete command of her material. Her work is like origami, in which meanings gently unfold. She treats Ellie's emerging eroticism with taste and delicacy."
Forward
"Lieberman writes her protagonist seamlessly, in a first-person voice that is so raw and awkward and confessional that it's hard to imagine it isn't a memoir, let alone fiction."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A remarkably sensitive and credible portrait of a girl whose faith collides with her sexuality, and who refuses to compromise either."
Tri State Young Adult Book Review Committee
"Presents us with several questions that we all have about growing up, and so, we make connections even if we are not Jewish...One searches for books like these in which one turns each page to find answers to age-old questions."
Booklist
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Tucson Unified School District
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Globe & Mail
Lieberman's confidence is impressive. She is in complete command of her material. Her work is like origami, in which meanings gently unfold. She treats Ellie's emerging eroticism with taste and delicacy.
The Jewish Independant - Cynthia Ramsay
"Gravity is a compelling, well-written story that... leaves readers wanting more - and, rightly so, leaves them to draw their own conclusions about whether orthodoxy and homosexuality can coexist."
KLIATT - Sharon Blumberg
Ellie Gold comes from an ultra-conservative Jewish family. This involves adhering to stringent social mores and a modest style of dress. Ellie and her older sister Neshama are expected to follow this way of life. When her parents take a trip to Israel, Ellie spends a few weeks with her mother's mother, whom she calls Bubba, in a cottage on a lake near Toronto. Her grandmother is much less strictly orthodox than Ellie's parents. Ellie's world turns upside down when she meets Lindsay, a girl her age who is vacationing with her mother in a cottage across the lake. Ellie soon discovers that Lindsay is a girl with promiscuous sexual values. Ellie slowly succumbs to Lindsay's magnetic charm. She questions the religious rules of her faith, and begins to question her own sexual orientation as well. Ellie then has to take on the challenge of finding out who she really is, and how to pursue this newfound identity. This work of contemporary fiction has a coming-of-age theme as an orthodox Jewish teenager comes to terms with her faith and her sexual identity. Reviewer: Sharon Blumberg
Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Ellie Gold does not question her parents' beliefs the way her older sister Neshama does. When Ellie visits her non-orthodox Bubbie, she insists on still keeping kosher and feels strange not going to shul. But when Ellie meets Lindsay, she begins to have feelings that she knows are completely wrong in Orthodox Jewish culture. Lindsay is the most amazing, beautiful person that Ellie has ever met; they could not be more different. When they begin a sexual relationship, Ellie questions everything she has ever been taught. Maybe Neshama can turn her back on the way she was raised, but Ellie begins to yearn for something in between, something to bridge the gap between her sexual orientation and her religious beliefs. Ellie's journey of self-discovery is one of the most unique and amazing pieces of young adult literature to appear in a long time. She is always honest with herself and the reader about the conflict she faces and the book's resolution is touching and inspiring. The other characters in the book are vivid enough that one becomes involved in their journeys as well; from Ellie's fanatical mother forced to leave the shul she loves, to Neshama's dream of getting away from everything she has ever known. Lieberman is to be commended on her honest depiction of a touchy issue. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
VOYA - Teri S. Lesesne
Ellie Gold has grown up as an Orthodox Jew. Her faith has been an essential part of her life. She has always been an obedient and observant Jew. The summer Ellie spends with her grandmother at the lake, however, will challenge her entire belief system. It is during this summer that Ellie meets and falls in love with Lindsay, another fifteen-year-old whose mother is renting the cottage next to theirs. Lindsay seems to return Ellie's affections, but there are times when Ellie is unsure about their relationship. Perhaps Lindsay enjoys the danger of an illicit liaison more than she truly loves Ellie. Ellie is a realistically drawn teen who struggles with matters of faith and sexuality compounded by the fact that her family faces other problems as well. A glossary provides definitions of the terms that will be unfamiliar to those outside of the Jewish faith. Some readers, however, could find the details about Orthodox Judaism daunting. There are few books that deal this frankly with the inner conflict of a religious teen trying to come to terms with her or his sexuality. This book was the winner of the Orca So You Think You Can Write? Contest so more of the same can be expected from this author. Reviewer: Teri S. Lesesne
School Library Journal

Gr 8-10

Ellisheva "Ellie" Gold is an Orthodox Jewish teen growing up in Toronto. When she falls for daring, sexy, non-Jewish Lindsay, she begins a struggle with her own homosexuality, worrying that she will be seen as an abomination by her family and community. First denying her urges and then giving in to them, she ultimately realizes that Lindsay is not a good match for her, but that a nice Jewish girl would be just right. Ellie learns that both love and God are like gravity, forces that she can believe in without seeing them. Much of the story concerns her lustful feelings toward Lindsay, and there are some sexual scenes. Her decision to dump Lindsay but embrace her lesbian identity is abrupt after all the angst of the earlier chapters. It makes for a happy ending, but one that is not completely believable. Ellie's struggle with Judaism is complicated by her sister Neshama's disgust with patriarchal traditions and by her nonobservant grandmother's puzzlement with her granddaughter's lifestyle. With no sympathetic representative, traditional Judaism itself comes off as something of a villain, redeemed only when Ellie begins to adapt it to her own needs. A bit slow in plot, a bit conflicted in its portrayal of Judaism, and a bit titillating in its descriptions of Ellie's growing sexual awareness, this novel is a mixed bag. It may offend some readers and be embraced by others, and would certainly make for an interesting discussion.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Kirkus Reviews

A religious girl struggles to accept a sexuality that she's taught is sinful. Ellie's parents are "reborn-Orthodox" Jews. The family prays many times per day, keeps strictly kosher and barely associates with non-Jews. At a lakeside cottage with her unreligious grandmother one summer, Ellie falls hard for a girl. They kiss, but Lindsay is tauntingly unfriendly and leaves without saying goodbye. Back in Toronto, Ellie yearns for Lindsay and wrestles in secrecy with the notion of sin. Attempting to change, she yanks hair from her scalp and bites her cheek bloody. In counterpoint, Ima (her mother) is banished for singing too loudly in shul; she's particularly fragile, but her actions mortify the family even as the harsh punishment unsettles them. Ellie slowly realizes that for her, Judaism is the same as her beloved geology and oceanography: "When I pray, the words reverberate...They ground me, like bull kelp...rooted to the ocean floor, yet still moving, undulating in the waves." At the end, Judaism and gayness meld, with a touch of sweetness. Heartfelt—a must for Jewish and GLBT collections. (glossary) (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554690497
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Pages: 280
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Leanne Lieberman is the author of three books for young adults, Gravity,The Book of Trees and Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust. She lives in Kingston, Ontario, with her husband and two sons. For more information, visit www.leannelieberman.com..
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Read an Excerpt

"All through dinner a silent rage courses through me. Judaism says I am an abomination, yet God and His commandments are supposed to be good. Mrs. Lowenstein says I can change, but I've tried and it didn't work. Neshama says God is just an idea made up by stupid men who say women can't love other women. What is God anyway? Some big guy in the sky? The creator? Creator of what? I know dinosaur bones are older than the Torah."
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Andrew S. Cohen for TeensReadToo.com

    This book by Canadian first-time author Leanne Lieberman centers on the coming-of-age of Ellie Gold. <BR/><BR/>The story begins during the summer vacation: Ellie goes to her grandmother's cottage in the midst of immaculate natural beauty, a place that she has looked forward to returning to since her first visit. This trip ends unexpectedly, as Ellie ends up falling in love with a girl her age, realizing her homosexuality. <BR/><BR/>However, Ellie has been brought up with strict religious values and traditions, which do not accept homosexuality, and she is forced to choose between shunning her community or denying her true sexuality. <BR/><BR/>Ultimately, through the multiple conflicts illustrated between tradition and modernity, Lieberman establishes that there is a place for all types of people, including Ellie, in society and religion. <BR/><BR/>I definitely enjoyed this story. Lieberman sucessfully develops her characters, and does not shy away from the lust commonly experienced by teenagers. And, coupled with the homosexual storyline, this story provides for a very interesting read, and is friendly to those who are not familiar with Judaism, specifically Orthodoxy. <BR/><BR/>GRAVITY is a good read for any, and despite my initial questions of how Lieberman would create such a challenging story, my concerns were for naught, as the story is an excellent work.

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    Posted January 24, 2011

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