Letting Go of Gravity

Letting Go of Gravity

by Meg Leder


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534403161
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 07/17/2018
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 196,856
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

A former bookseller and teacher, Meg Leder currently works as a book editor in New York City. Her role models are Harriet the Spy and Anne Shirley. She is the author of Letting Go of Gravity, The Museum of Heartbreak, the coauthor of The Happy Book, and spends her free time reading, looking for street art, and people watching. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can visit her website at MegLeder.com or find her on Twitter @MegLeder.

Read an Excerpt

Letting Go of Gravity

  • I CLEAR MY THROAT, one hand white-knuckling the edge of the podium, the other at my side, and remind myself I’m almost done. And it has gone perfectly—my voice clear, not too fast, not too slow, pauses just right.

    I’ve practiced this end part so much, my body is on autopilot now. I hear the words come out of my mouth independently of me actually reading the typed pages: “And so, my fellow graduates, in conclusion, I leave you today with the immortal words of Lord Alfred Tennyson from his poem ‘Ulysses.’ ”

    And then, like habit, like breath, I look for Charlie, eyes darting to the row where he should be sitting.

    I only see Christine Miller, intently focused on searching for split ends in her platinum-blond hair, legs crossed, impatiently tapping one stabby-looking high heel in front of her.

    My eyes scan the crowd.

    I meet Em’s eyes, her wild blond hair a beacon amid blown-out highlighted waves, as she tugs at her necklace, smiling at me. Next to her, her cousin Matty gives me a reassuring thumbs-up.

    No Charlie.

    To the side, my parents. Dad—his grin so big, it looks like his whole body is in on the smile—and next to him, Mom, her love quieter, a low-level steady recurring pulse of warmth.

    I still don’t see my brother.

    Principal Taylor clears her throat from behind me, and I realize my pause is too long.

    “Lord Alfred Tennyson from his poem ‘Ulysses,’ ” I repeat, trying to recapture my momentum.

    But it’s like someone’s unplugged my speech, the words flickering to a black screen.

    I can’t believe Charlie’s not here. I can’t believe he didn’t come at all.

    I feel my grip sliding, my bottom right eyelid starting to twitch. I glance down at my one hand on the podium, and I’m not sure it’s connected to me, that it’s even mine anymore, and I miss it.

    “Parker?” Principal Taylor says from behind me, touching my elbow, and I realize everyone’s waiting for me, that anyone who wasn’t paying attention before certainly is now.

    “Sorry,” I say, shaking my head and looking up, putting on a smile that isn’t really mine.

    “And so, my fellow graduates, in conclusion, I leave you today with the immortal words of Lord Alfred Tennyson from his poem ‘Ulysses.’ ”

    My finger shakes slightly as I trace the typed pages in front of me, and my bottom right eyelid is still twitching, but I force my voice to be steady, reminding myself I worked hard for this moment, that it’s all mine.


    We are not now that strength which in old days

    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,

    One equal temper of heroic hearts,

    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

    To strive, to seek, to find—”

    And then, when I’m within four words of being done, a loud “Vroom vroom!” bursts into the air from the left side of the auditorium.

    It stills everyone and everything, even me.

    I see her: a dark-haired little girl, squatting in the aisle, gleefully running a toy car around on the floor.

    The whole crowd shifts like they’re waking up, adults smiling, people from my class laughing.

    An older woman leans into the aisle, jerks the child’s arm, and shushes her.

    The little girl starts to cry, a wail echoing through the auditorium, and a man—probably her dad—scoops her up, heads toward the exit.

    I stop, close my eyes, listen as the cry gets fainter.

    In front of me, there are 233 fellow seniors in bright-red polyester gowns, and I don’t have anything real to say to them—not anything they care about, not anything that’s mine.

    I’m just quoting some words from a dead white guy.

    I wish I had something of my own to say. Something totally new—words that no one in the entire history of the world has ever said before, a sentiment that is totally and perfectly and particularly mine.

    But I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    I open my eyes and finally see him, right under the exit sign.


    My twin, my other half, cohabitant of our mom’s womb, older by six and a half minutes, the person in the world whose DNA is the closest to mine.

    Except my blood cells have always been orderly, behaved, healthy.

    The light makes the brown fuzz of his newly grown-in hair look even softer.

    He’s leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, legs forever too long for whatever space he’s in, his face unreadable from where I’m standing, and I wonder when we lost each other.

    “ ‘—And not to yield’?” I finally say, making it a question.

    There’s an excruciating silence, everyone waiting because they’re not sure it’s the end of the speech—who ends an inspiring poem with a question? Tennyson didn’t, that’s for sure—but then Emerson starts clapping like she thinks I’m Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama all in one, and then more people join in, and I step back, let out a long exhale, finishing up quite possibly the worst conclusion to a valedictorian speech in the history of valedictorian speeches.

    Principal Taylor steps to the podium and thanks me, and I smile hard, because right now my teeth have a mind of their own and if I don’t, I’m pretty sure they’ll start chattering and never stop.

    Sitting on a folding chair on the side of the stage, I tighten my hands in my lap, listening to Principal Taylor talking about this year’s class of graduates—all the scholarships we’ve won, all the marvelous places we’re going, the incredible adults we’re becoming.

    I pretend to listen, but really I’m promising myself that if I see Charlie again, everything—this summer, college, med school, my life—will be okay.

    When I look back at the exit sign, he’s gone.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Letting Go of Gravity 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    TheThoughtSpot 7 months ago
    Touching realistic fiction! Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder! Parker and Charlie are twins. One of them is giving the Valedictorian speech at high school graduation and the other watches from the audience, not graduating because of being held back a year in school, due to a second bout with leukemia. Parker has her future set out for her and Charlie is tired of dealing with leukemia. At the same time, Charlie seems much more confident about what he’s feeling and what he wants compared to Parker, who has uncertainties about everything. Parker crosses paths with Finn, a friend from elementary school that she lost track of. Charlie acts like he has a death wish and it’s upsetting his family and friends so much that his parents send him to a cancer therapy support group. Parker thinks that Charlie hates her and she seems to keep making the same mistakes, over and over, that make him angry. Through the turmoil of figuring out their lives and futures, Parker and Charlie surprise each other with how similar they are but different at the same time. A touching realistic fiction story with Ruby and Finn, dynamic side characters that bring an extra level of maturity to the plot and story line. 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
    BookPrincessReviews 10 months ago
    4.5 crowns Wow. Okay, tbh, I picked this book because I thought it would be a nice fluffy read about twins and, like, idk twin things? I thought there would be a few feels, but mostly I was just in my contemporary zone, ready to get in my summer mood. What I got? A book that made me cry on the treadmill, the most relatable main character that I've ever read that felt like me, a really cute romance, and some major twin growth. I wasn't aware when I picked this book up that there was anxiety rep, but it comes out throughout the book what Parker is dealing with. Leder does a wonderful job at going through what anxiety is like, and honestly, it did get VERY real at some points that I found myself getting anxious for her. So, it can bring a bit of anxiety, but it's just done so realistically and puts you into someone with anxiety's shoes. As I said, I think I finally found my character. I always see questions like, "What character do you relate the most with?" or "What character are you the most like?" and I always blank because I've never really found myself in YA. That is until I found Parker. She worries about falling. She worries about mysterious cult compounds. She worries about big things and little things and social niceties. She gets anxious about a lot of things, but she feels deeply and cares deeply. I was legit on the same treadmill again - omg, wow, I'm taking fitness to a new level here - and was off thinking, "I am Parker. Parker is me. I'm becoming an inspirational poster now in some eighth grade classroom." But I honestly just related with her so much. She makes mistakes - but she's human and realistic and I just truly felt so much for her because I saw so much of myself in her. Honestly, one of the best main character that I've read in a while. Also, there was a lot of strength in this book - especially from the female characters. Ruby and Parker both deep with some forms of anxiety, and I was just really amazed by their mental and emotional strength. It was so empowering for me to read. Plus, the ceramics ladies showcased their own empowerment as well. This book made my heart so happy to see all of the ladies supporting ladies and showcasing different forms of strength. And this book made me cry. So it automatically gets 20 million points since I can't even tell you the last time I cried in a book. The rest of the characters were fantastic as well. They were messy and complex and dynamic - and just so realllllllllllllllllllll. Charlie, Ruby, Finn, the cermaics gang, and Trina - they were all brilliant and complex and omg, there was just so much to them. Of course, Charlie rubbed me the wrong way in the beginning, but it's because there is so much depth to him and he just survived cancer. Leder doesn't paint nice little happy campers - just shows the realness and humanity to them that okay, I might have hated their decisions, but they were REAL. The plot is one of those slow burners. It's all about the character growth and the journey. Parker is trying to figure out what she wants to be and learning who she and Charlie is. There aren't too many big plot points or plot twists, and if you're looking for others, this book isn't it. However, if you love books with amazing characterization, amazing character journeys and growth, and more of an overreacting plot, this is it. And it's so well done, because I literally DEVOURED this book. Every time I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about going back to reading it (I lite