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The Pull of Gravity
     

The Pull of Gravity

4.6 35
by Gae Polisner
 

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While Nick Gardner's family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot's final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot's father. There's just one problem: the Scoot's father walked out years ago and hasn't been heard from

Overview

While Nick Gardner's family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot's final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot's father. There's just one problem: the Scoot's father walked out years ago and hasn't been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck's life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him.
Characters you'll want to become friends with and a narrative voice that sparkles with wit make this a truly original coming-of-age story.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The very sentimentalism of the situation, the quest nature of the plot, and the quirkiness of the characters will appeal to many young readers.” —BCCB

“What summer reading list is complete without a road-trip novel? Especially one that extols the virtues of reading sad books and contains the sentence: ‘Parents are such idiots.'” —Newsday

“Polisner's first novel begins with a bang and ends with another . . . . There is a great deal to enjoy throughout, and literary kids will surely enjoy a subplot involving John Steinbeck.” —Booklist

“Characters feel real . . . and the plot zips along, championing strength in adversity.” —School Library Journal

“She [Gae Polisner] is a writer young adult readers will surely want to hear more from.” —examiner.com

“The very sentimentalism of the situation, the quest nature of the plot, and the quirkiness of the characters will appeal to many young readers.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Although the teens’ best laid plans go oft awry, they discover that the force of the universe is with them—or at least friendship, family and romance. Pulls the heart in all the right places.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Scooter, Nick, and Jaycee are real, and they're funny. I love how they yearn for something beautiful, warm, and true to lift them from the lousy, sad absurdity of their circumstances. And I love the unlikely places where they find it: Yoda. A possibly misguided bus trip. Red wax lips. Real lips. And each other. I love that they find it mostly in each other.” —Lynne Rae Perkins, Newbery Medal-winning author of As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

“Part love story, part adventure story, funny and serious, The Pull of Gravity is a delightful read.” —Francisco X. Stork, author of Marcelo in the Real World

“Gae Polisner writes with fluidity and grace. The Pull of Gravity will draw you in and keep you thinking long after you've closed the book.” —K.L. Going, author of King of the Screwups

The Pull of Gravity is the whole package--realistic, quirky, fun, and weepy. Polisner is an author to watch.” —Mary E. Pearson, author of The Miles Between

The Pull of Gravity is a clever, masterfully told tale of loyalty and redemption that will pull you in and hook you 'til the last page.” —Chris Crutcher, author of Deadline

Newbery Medal-winning author of As Easy as Falling Lynne Rae Perkins
Scooter, Nick, and Jaycee are real, and they're funny. I love how they yearn for something beautiful, warm, and true to lift them from the lousy, sad absurdity of their circumstances. And I love the unlikely places where they find it: Yoda. A possibly misguided bus trip. Red wax lips. Real lips. And each other. I love that they find it mostly in each other.
Children's Literature - Amanda MacGregor
Nick, nearly fifteen, is going through a rough patch. After rushing out of house in a fit of fevered hallucination, Nick breaks his leg and no one is able to reach his depressed, 395 pound father. Feeling guilty, Nick's dad sets off to walk 200 or so miles to New York City, in some sort of poorly explained quest to redeem himself. Nick's neighbor and best friend, Scooter, is dying from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a disease that speeds up the aging process. And now Jaycee, some weird girl Scooter is friends with, wants Nick to help her track down Scooter's absent father before Scooter dies. They believe his father is in Rochester, New York, and set out on their mission. Jaycee is savvy and prepared, organizing each move on their journey. Nick feels it is unlikely they will find Scooter's dad, but finds himself drawn to Jaycee and, in spite of all the sadness and stress in his life, consumed with thoughts of kissing her. Along the way, they encounter surprising revelations and do not get the happy ending they were hoping for. Uneven plotting and too many issues (Jaycee's hatred for her stepdad, Nick's odd fevers and unhappy home life, Scooter's illness) mar the story, but Nick's narration, his believable and honest voice, helps keep the quiet story from stagnating. Not all the questions feel answered by story's end, but Nick and Jaycee's expedition proves that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—In this charming but uneven chronicle of a teen in his watershed autumn, Nick Gardner's claims to fame include having a dad, email moniker FatMan2, who decides to move his 395-pound body on foot the 196 miles back to his beloved Manhattan. The out-of-work newspaperman sets out to change his life, but Nick doesn't open the emails that chart his progress, unbalancing readers, who do see the messages. His next-door friend Scooter suffers from a rare syndrome that dooms him to look like "a shrunken old man" and cuts life short. Nick shares a love for Star Wars movies with the Scoot, but now that he's heading toward 15, there's less time for hanging with his frail childhood buddy, and after a stroke, Scooter has even less time. Enter Jaycee Amato, the bizarre yet beguiling friend of Scooter who presents Nick with a quest at the request of the dying teen—the two of them will track down the father who abandoned Scooter and his mom more than a decade ago to deliver a letter and a valuable signed first edition of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. When the two set out to try to make it happen for the Scoot, Nick instead finds Scooter's mother–and his own transforming father with her. This infidelity plot strand dangles a bit, but many teens will gloss over it to focus on the fact that bus road trips allow plenty of kissing practice time. Characters feel real, though unresolved, and the plot zips along, championing strength in adversity.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Kirkus Reviews

Blending Steinbeck and Star Wars, this debut novel with a touch of magical realism leads two teens on a weekend road trip to fulfill a secret mission. With a workaholic mother, an older brother heading to college and an out-of-work, 395-pound father who spends all his time on the couch, high-school freshman Nick doesn't get much attention, especially when his father walks (literally) out of their house in Albany and back to his roots in New York City. To top it off, his fatherless best friend (and Yoda aficionado), Scooter, has Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare and incurable disease that speeds up the aging process. Then Jaycee, who's also lost her dad, convinces Nick to join her in granting Scooter's dying wish: locate Scooter's father in Rochester and give him Scooter's signed first edition of Of Mice and Men. Nick's first-person narration and authentic teen voice give insight into this typical boy who wonders why, in the middle of thinking about his dying best friend, all he really wants to do is kiss Jaycee. Although the teens' best laid plans go oft awry, they discover that the force of the universe is with them—or at least friendship, family and romance. Pulls the heart in all the right places. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374371937
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
05/10/2011
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
HL690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

1
 

A fever was what started everything. That, and the water tower, and the cherry cola. Well, also, Dad and his condition, and Mom being in Philadelphia and all.
I mean, the fever alone wasn’t the problem, or even the hallucination that came with it. I always got those when I was sick. “Febrile seizures” Mom calls them. But they were usually confined to my bedroom. Okay, once to the bathroom—unless there were actually giant spiders guarding the toilet—and once to the backyard. But there were definitely giant noodles dancing out there, so I had to join them. Which, according to my brother, Jeremy, was hilarious.
As far as Jeremy’s concerned, I’m just one big ball of feverish entertainment.
Even Mom says she never saw anyone who can spike a fever like I can. It’s like I can be fine one minute, then burning up an easy 104 degrees the next.
Jeremy is different. He’s Mr. Healthy so it’s an international crisis if he even sneezes or gets a headache. Really, the dude is never sick. Never misses a day of school or a game or, worse, his own birthday party. It’s like my folks had him, then spent the next three years saving up the sick genes and popped me out to deal with them.
But where was I?
Oh yeah, how everything got started.
So it’s the last Friday in August, and I’m a few days from starting high school, which isn’t a big deal here in Glenbrook since there’s only one elementary school that feeds into one middle school that feeds into Marshall J. Freeman High. So by the time we all get there, we pretty much know everyone by heart. Besides, I’m almost fifteen, so I’m ready to get the heck into high school.
Mom is at Rand Industries where she works, but not at the local factory here in Glenbrook like she normally is. She’s at corporate headquarters in Philly where she is the last Thursday through Sunday of every other month, on account of she’s their bookkeeper and that’s where the bimonthly audit review meetings are held. Well, also, on account of she has to since Dad doesn’t work much anymore. On account of him being so fat.
Rand Industries is a chemical-by-product storage and removal company, but other than that, there’s not much I can tell you about it. Mom’s explained it a thousand times, but honestly, I still don’t know what they do. Except that a few times a month, a big puff of black smoke comes wafting out of the building, and then a bunch of people run over there with picket signs saying it’s bad for the environment. It’s not that I disagree with them, but I feel bad for Mom. She doesn’t make the stuff. She just keeps the books for them.
Although it is kind of ironic, since clean air and clean living are the main reason she moved us up here to Glenbrook in the first place, right after Jeremy was born.
Anyway, Mom is at Rand headquarters, and Dad is belly-up on the couch in the living room like he always is. Sound asleep, like a beached whale.
I walk over and tap him on the stomach with my lacrosse stick, which I’m carrying around in my boxer shorts because I have this fever and I’m half in—and half out of—sleep, and clearly ramping up to hallucinate.
“Dad, I’m meeting Ryan,” I say. “Going out laxxing.”
No answer.
I prod him again with the stick. He grumbles and breathes heavy.
“Dad, I’m going out. But maybe I’m sick. Can you feel my head?”
He rolls on his side, his gigantic belly hanging over the edge, and for the millionth time in the last few years I wonder if he’s close to dead. But as I head to the front door he manages, “Other way, kid, you’d better go back to bed.”
Now if you think I’m exaggerating about the fat part, I’m not. My dad is seriously fat. At last count, 395 pounds of jiggling, miserable fat. And add to that, just plain miserable.
Of course, he didn’t start out that way. Sure, he was always big, which makes you wonder why I stay so freaking skinny. Barely 110 pounds soaking wet on a good day. Seriously, my ribs show. Not cool for a guy who’s entering high school. But Dad was always a jolly sort of big, like a solid 250 or something. Then, after his heart attack a few years ago, he had to take time off because of stress and depression and all, and he got fatter and fatter by the minute. Which was like a vicious cycle, because he lost his job as a desk editor for the Albany Times Union, then sat around home writing dinky editorial pieces for the Glenbrook Weekly Sun. Which made things worse since the Albany paper was already a huge step down from the New York Daily News where he used to work before Mom dragged him up here to “the Sticks.” Which is what my dad calls any place more than five minutes away from Manhattan. Where he used to live before Jeremy and I mucked it all up.
But anyway.
So the more I think about it, I guess it wasn’t just the fever and the cherry cola and the water tower that got everything started, but also Dad’s situation. Or maybe it was actually the Scoot’s turn for the worse that really set things in motion.
As hard as I try to pinpoint it, maybe it wasn’t one thing that led me to Jaycee Amato and the craziest weekend of my life.
All I know is once it started, it just was.
Spinning in motion, I mean.
And then nothing was the same.

 
copyright © Lucasfilm Ltd

Meet the Author

Gae Polisner is a wife, mother, and family law attorney/mediator by trade, but a writer by calling. The Pull of Gravity is her first novel.

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The Pull of Gravity 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Pull of Gravity is sweet, honest and touching. It has moments that will make you laugh out loud and even become teary. Those teaching Of Mice and Men will want to read this and add it to their library, if not their curriculum. John Steinbeck’s novel isn’t part of our curriculum in my district, but I will be including The Pull of Gravity in my classroom library. My favorite character is the unique and completely honest Jaycee Amato. Her witty dialogue and comebacks with Nick had me giggling multiple times throughout the book. She’s the one that introduces Nick to Of Mice and Men by reading it to him as they head out on their journey to fulfill the request of The Scoot, their dying friend. They’re looking for Scoot’s father (without telling their parents), and the chances of finding him are slim, but Jaycee is prepared and optimistic. You’ve gotta love a girl who can plan an entire secret trip and stay optimistic while doing so. :) The trip itself is fun to read because so many aspects of the story unravel and come together there. Besides Nick and Jaycee looking for Scoot’s dad, we watch Nick take chances (on love and his family) and become more independent. And even though Scoot isn’t on this journey with him, we get to find out more about his life and character. Plus, there’s all of his great Yoda and Star Wars references. Steinbeck and Yoda together?! AWESOME! If you’ve read John Green’s Paper Towns (I’m thinking of Quentin’s journey to find Margo), you’re sure to enjoy The Pull of Gravity. A great element to the story are the emails Nick receives from his dad. Nick and his dad lack a strong relationship because his dad has pretty much checked out as a father. The emails appear in between some chapters and give us insight that we otherwise wouldn’t have. We know why Nick is upset with his dad, but I wish these feelings were more developed before we read the emails. I also wish we could have read more of his emails simply because they’re a cool element to the story. I definitely recommend reading this. Girls will enjoy the relationship between Jaycee and Nick. Boys will love the Star Wars references and will easily relate to Nick. Teachers and librarians will, of course enjoy the story, but will also appreciate the ties to Of Mice and Men and Polisner's wonderful writing!
Cariblogs More than 1 year ago
Before I get started, I want to say that The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner made me cry! Gae can go from wacky to emotional in the flip of a page. When we first meet Nick he is surrounded by chaos. His father has lost his job and he spends his days on the couch sleeping and gaining weight. Nick's neighbor Scoot was once Nick's best friend, but he is sick and spends most of his time at home. Nick also distanced himself from Scoot because he just wants to be normal. Nick is pretty normal except he gets really high fevers that sometimes cause him to have hallucinations. During one of his fevers Nick feels he is being attacked so he runs out of the house and tries to climb a water tower. Scoot sees him and calls to him causing Nick to react before he can get seriously injured. Nick's parents fight about how close they came to loosing Nick and his dad sets off on a quest to walk to New York City in hopes of changing his life. While this might be great for Nick's dad, Nick can't help but feel that his dad has bailed on him. Jaycee, Scoot's friend, hopes that Nick will help her find Scoot's dad who left when Scoot was young and started getting sick. Scoot confided in Jaycee that he would like to see his dad before he passes away. (Insert tears) Jaycee and Nick work together to find details and agree to find Scoot's dad. During the journey we find out the bubble that is Nick's life and how much he grows as a person. He learns not only about himself, but about his family and Jaycee. Jaycee reminds me a lot of Lorelai Gilmore from The Gilmore Girls because she is quirky and can always figure out what to do or say next. You will come to love Nick, Jaycee, Scoot and the adventure they go on! I love the Of Mice and Men and Star Wars references through out the book. My only regret is that I waited so long to read it. I loved The Pull of Gravity so much and I hope you pick it up soon. This will be one of those books I re-read again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic!!
AS_Youngless More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It's short and sweet and simply wonderful. The story warmed my heart and to be honest, it's sitting on my night stand because I like to revisit it on occasion. I'm glad I took the time to check it out and I can't wait to read more from Gae Polisner. If you haven't read this book yet, order it today. Order two and give one to your library. Order three and give that one to your friend. It's a beautiful story that anyone can relate to and shouldn't be missed. My only complaint - which isn't about the book - but I don't understand why my local Barnes and Noble doesn't carry it. I've looked for it, even spoke to a person about ordering it (which they never did or never called me if they did... this makes me sad. Good books should be on book shelves, no only in cyber space.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish I could give this six stars, another  star for the author being hot. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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novelreader4ever More than 1 year ago
Terrific!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BUY IT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very sweet and sincere. The writing was crisp, clear and engaging. A great read for all ages!
epicrat More than 1 year ago
The Pull Of Gravity may not sound too extraordinary, but the characters definitely make this story come to life with their Slinky bracelets, feverish dreams of evil cherry cola monsters, and wise Yoda-isms. Nick’s “nice guy” personality keeps Jaycee’s larger-than-life eccentricities at bay, and together they make the journey to find Scoot’s dad as memorable and one-of-a-kind as the destination. Every time they seemed to get a hold of a sticky situation, there always seemed to be another one on the ready to cause more hijinks. I would have liked to see the story go on a little longer if only to have more loose ends resolved, but a more charming and heartfelt book I do not think you will find. A perfect bedtime snack of a read or quick road trip – and MORE perfect if you are in dire need of a good book to keep your reading morale up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We are reading this in my englishnclass hope its.good
TeacherAnn More than 1 year ago
Beautiful, sweet, realistic. All you want in a realistic story.
pittccbulldogs More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book! Gae Polisner is a great author, reading her other book, The Summer of Letting Go now. Can't wait to see what else she writes in the near future :) I've never read a book and cried like I did when I read The Pull of Gravity, it really showed the meaning of true friendship! 
wscalfaro More than 1 year ago
Rarely do I read a book more than once. This book is the exception. I read it once, loved it, put it down, misplaced it, found it, and then read it again. It’s not your typical coming-of-age novel, but then again it is. Nick reluctantly follows Jaycee on a journey, fights some demons (internal), and comes out stronger in the end. I loved the characters immediately. Nick is funny and insecure, and Jaycee is quirky and adorable. Polisner gets into the head of a 15-year-old boy, conveying convincing inner dialogue, and adeptly relaying his fear of uncharted territory: first love, the potential for a first kiss, staying in a hotel with a girl, and wandering around an unfamiliar city. Nick feels most comfortable when faced with Jaycee’s fever because he’s been through it himself. He is the Fever King! However, he still feels a bit of anxiety over whether he’s doing the right thing. Polisner does not portray him as an over-confident, unbelievable teen. Just when he’s starting to feel comfortable with the idea of being away from home with a girl, he makes a discovery that turns his world upside down. He’s angry and depressed and resentful. Just like a typical 15-year-old would react in this situation. Get this book. Read it. And maybe read it again. And then you might want to go out and get Of Mice and Men and read that again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good, i could read this book over and over agian. Mrs.Gae is so easy to talk to. Thank you Mrs.Gae for everything. She ls such a great role model. Mrs.Gae you are my role model now and forever. Thank you for coming to my school today 5-28-14. You are so awesome. Like the scoot would say May the force be with you!!!!!! LOL but this book is really good it makes you feel like you have know nick and jaycee and the scoot forever. Its like your on the adventure with them from the beginning to the end of the hole book. P.S my teacher is Mrs.Taylor.
JimRGill2012 More than 1 year ago
This nifty little tale tells the story of Nick, a teenager with an obese father, an insensitive older brother, and a next-door neighbor named Scooter, who’s dying of progeria. Not exactly your typical teen. He also has a new friend/crush named Jaycee, whose stepfather is a cardboard cut-out of a TV newsman. Unbeknownst to Nick, Scooter and Jaycee become friends, and Scooter entrusts her with a mission or—as the book jacket calls it—a “dying wish” involving a signed first-edition of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and Scooter’s estranged father. Nick’s adventure with Jaycee becomes a turning point in his life—it encompasses many “firsts” for the likeable protagonist (including his first kiss). Polisner’s charming prose will probably appeal to teens and tweens (this novel’s true audience) more than it will to adults, but adults will also enjoy this sweet, touching story despite some narrative loose ends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read  by new author. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waiting for the author's next book. She has a beautiful way of telling a tough story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Solid story about teenage love and struggles. A worthy read for any classroom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well written story I can recommend to any teenager. Ms. Polisner takes a serious subject and allows you to connect with the main characters. She is quite gifted and I hope to see more of her books. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful story of friendship and kindness. I highly recommend it for the young adults in your life.
HarryDolan More than 1 year ago
Nick Gardner and Jaycee Amato -- the pair of teenagers at the center of THE PULL OF GRAVITY -- are smart, funny, quirky, and charming. Author Gae Polisner sends them on a quest to fulfill a promise to a friend, a quest that involves such unlikely elements as a bus trip to Rochester and a signed first-edition copy of John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN. Polisner captures the voices of her young protagonists brilliantly, and when their plans go awry, the results are both unpredictable and deeply moving. You'll want good things for Nick and Jaycee, and you'll remember them long after you reach the final page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago