The Pull of Gravity

The Pull of Gravity

by Gae Polisner


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250019332
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 289,752
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

The Pull of Gravity

By Gae Polisner

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2011 Gae Polisner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2315-6


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.


So there it is the last week of August, with Mom in Philly, Dad on the couch, and me back in bed, my fever spiking, just waiting to hallucinate noodles. And Jeremy's wherever, which means everything is just like normal.

Even the Scoot is in one of the places he often is, reading in the park on Watson, which is really what saves me in the end. Because I do hallucinate, only this time it's not noodles but a giant can of black cherry cola. Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Soda, if you want to be exact.

I mean, maybe it's stuck in my memory how I used to love that stuff when I was little, how Dad used to bring it home in six-packs every Friday night, and we'd eat pizza and drink black cherry cola until our stomachs were ready to bust. Until Mom banned it, that is, on account of Dad ballooning up big-time.

Only this cherry cola is evil-looking, with long dangling arms and white-gloved Mickey Mouse hands. I know it sounds cute, but it isn't. It's got beady eyes and a black twirly mustache, and it's wielding a machete in its hands.

Which is where the water tower comes into the story. The giant blue, trapezoidal one west of Watson Street that looks like a Star Wars AT-AT Walker. Because when Cola Dude starts chasing me, I jump out of bed, fly downstairs and out of the house, down Carver, left on Main, two blocks west on Camelia Street, and right onto Watson, where I run smack into that water tower and start scrambling up to the top.

In my boxer shorts underwear, that is.

Which is bad enough on its own, but these are my Christmas boxers, the red ones with the white polka dots that say "Ho! Ho! Ho!" all over them. And it's August. And I'm climbing a water tower in a public park, yelling at a giant invisible cola.

It's not a pretty sight.

But, of course, I'm delirious. I don't know what I'm doing.

I make it maybe twenty feet before someone yells, "Hey, Nick, get down from there!" It's Scooter's high, raspy voice, and somehow it penetrates and I come to. Although not as fully as I need to in order to stop from crashing down.

My leg snaps on impact. Which hurts like a mothertrucker.

But still, I'm pretty lucky. Because the way the Scoot tells it, I'm climbing so fast I'd have reached the top in no time, which is like eighty feet up in the air. And if I'd fallen from there, I'd surely have broken my neck instead of just my leg.

Which is where Dad comes back into the story.

Because he sleeps through it all. Through the fever and the hallucination, and the running, and climbing, and falling, and right through all of Scooter's frantic calls. Even through the ambulance siren racing to get me just a few short blocks away. Through my trip to Mercy Hospital, and the doctors casting me up, and the first of Mom's fuming-angry calls.

You name it, my dad sleeps right through it.

Which leads to Mom coming home early, and to the days and days of screaming. And to Dad packing up and setting out to walk to New York City. And to the news crew showing up, and my collision course with Jaycee Amato.

But first, Scooter saves me, which is pretty ironic because the kid is half-dead himself. Which makes him a temporary hero, instead of a pariah for a change.

So at least some good comes out of it.

Which is nice, because, after that, everything goes downhill.

September 3

Dear Nick,

I've been thinking long and hard the past few months about what I'm about to do. I know I need to do something, anything, other than sit around on the couch waiting for the right answers to come. There's no such thing as a perfect time, so this seems like as good a time and place as any to begin.

I'll be back soon. I hope you understand.



But first I should explain the Scoot, so you'll fully understand.

Scooter Reyland is our next-door neighbor and a year older than I am. You wouldn't know it to look at him, though, because he's the smallest, weirdest-looking dude you've ever seen. I'm not being cruel, it isn't a secret. The Scoot would be the first to agree.

The Scoot wasn't born weird, but for as long as I can remember, he's been the messed up way that he is. Jeremy remembers him different, when he was a cute normal baby. But normal didn't last very long before total freakishness set in.

By the time I was two and the Scoot was three, he had stopped growing altogether. His head looked too big for his body and his hair fell out, or maybe it never came in. Plus, his skin started to wrinkle and got so thin you could see all the veins underneath. By the time he reached preschool, he looked like a shrunken old man.

And they all watched it happen, Mom, Dad, Jeremy, and worst of all, his mother, MaeLynn. Not me, though. I only remember him the way he is, so he mostly just seems like the Scoot, and not some freakish kid.

Now if you saw MaeLynn, you'd never believe that Scooter was her kid. She's a nurse, originally from the South, and looks like a magazine model. Thin, long blond hair, you know the drill. But his mom she was, and the Scoot was her whole entire world.

Anyway, back then, when all this stuff with the Scoot went wrong, his dad, some jerk named Guy, just up and disappeared. Left forever, without even saying goodbye. The way MaeLynn tells it, one day he's there, and the next, he's gone. Period. End of story. He never even calls or sends money.

Dad says he just freaked out, couldn't handle the pressure of what was happening to his son. But MaeLynn says he was lame to begin with, lived in a fantasy world, even before Scooter was born. She says it didn't matter anyway, because his leaving was the best thing for them, that he was a two-bit, wing-flapping chicken who couldn't stand the heat, so better that he clucked on out of her kitchen.

Still, it left MaeLynn to do all the hard work alone. Every week she dragged the Scoot's sorry little ass to doctors, until someone finally told her what was wrong. The Scoot had Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which speeds up the aging process and is totally incurable and rare. Like only one in eight million kids ever has it, and the Scoot's got it, so what are his chances there?

It's so rare, MaeLynn says, that in the history of recorded cases, Scooter's is 103rd. I mean, 103 people ever, out of all the billions in the world.

Over and over Scooter tries to explain to me how it's caused by this mutant gene that gets copied twice, one time fine, but the other time crazy wrong. I still don't get it. I can't make it stick in my brain.

The other thing Scooter tells me is that he's going to die.

This is years ago. We're like nine and ten, and we're playing Nerf guns in my yard. We're running around and shooting each other, but Scooter has to keep slowing down. Because already the symptoms are bad enough that his heart is weak, so he's constantly short of breath. Suddenly he stops and bends over, hands on knees, all red and panting and wheezing. So I stop too, and he looks up at me and says, "You know, Nick, this mutant gene thing, it's going to kill me soon."

No kidding. Just like that, that's what Scooter says.

Well, of course I don't know it; I don't know anything like it, because I'm just a little kid. Still, I nod my head and say something dumb like "Don't be an idiot, Scooter," then nudge him to keep playing our game.

But I never forget it. I never forget those words.

Anyway, this is how it was. Until a few years ago, the Scoot was my best friend. Especially on days MaeLynn worked, he was always at our house chilling with me or Dad. Then, near the end of middle school, things changed. We were both really different to begin with, and it was hard enough being a teen. Or, maybe, I finally got a little tired of how he was always hanging around, how Dad seemed to muster more energy for him, and was constantly worrying for MaeLynn. Maybe I resented how it felt like he was somehow our obligation. I started to spend less time with him and more and more time with my other friends.

The Scoot didn't seem too bothered by the shift in our friendship. He still hung around Dad, and Dad welcomed it. Plus, last year, he moved up to the high school, and he was barely in classes by then. Because by fifteen his body is like eighty, and he's older than most kids with progeria live. Seriously, his heart is failing and his liver's shot, which are not your usual teenage problems. So the minute he gets a cough or a cold, or something's just going around, MaeLynn pulls him from school and keeps him home safe with her. And when she's at work, he still knocks around with my dad. Or maybe he heads over to the park on Watson to read or scribble in that marble notebook of his.

Which is what he is doing there the day I break my leg.

Which, of course, leads to the mess with Mom and Dad, and to Jeremy being an ass. And to Dad taking off, and to Jaycee and the six o'clock news.

And to me deciding to do something crazy I wouldn't otherwise normally do.

Or maybe the truth is different.

Maybe I'm itching to do something crazy, and I just need someone to egg me on.

From: FatMan2

To: Nick Gardner

Subject: Walking


They say the beginning of any new thing is the hardest. Well, whoever "They" are, they're right. It is way harder than I thought, just walking.

More than that, it is hard leaving you guys, hard to be away.

I hope you know that, kid.

But I need to do this. I can't believe I am.



So what happens is Dad morphs into Fat Man 2 and disappears. And just so you know, the whole "Fat Man" thing isn't nearly as original as it sounds.

FatManWalking was actually the user name for this 400-pound guy from California who decided to lose weight by walking across the whole country to New York. For more than a year he walked and lost more than a hundred pounds. At the time, Dad was obsessed with the guy, followed his every move. For months it was all he talked about, like maybe he thought he could do it too.

He didn't, of course, not that any of us believed him in the first place. And eventually, he just stopped talking about it anymore.

Then, a few days after the water tower incident and another screaming match with Mom, he goes and digs out his Fat Man Walking T-shirt and starts packing his bags.

"Where'd you get that?" I say. I stand at his bedroom door, my toes throbbing fat and purple where they poke from my cast, my crutch hiked under my armpit, and watch as he shoves sweats into some high-tech backpack I've never seen before.

He looks up and frowns. "Hey, kid, you startled me."

"Sorry. So, what are you doing? Where'd all the Bear Grylls stuff come from?" I nod at the new hiking things piled up on the bed.

"I'm gonna do it, Nicky. Or at least try. I have to try." He stops packing, sighs. "Now is the time," he says.

"Time for what? When?" My ankle kills. I blink in disbelief.

"I'm aiming for this weekend."

He pauses, then goes back to what he's doing, as if this is all the explanation I need.

A few days later he stands at our front door, his laptop in a new waterproof sleeve, his backpack full, a compact, ultra-lightweight tent bungeed to its frame. I've been up, anxious, all morning, but Jeremy isn't even home. The jerk left for a friend's house without even saying goodbye.

"Figure a month, month and a half tops," he says to Mom. She nods, head down, arms crossed tight to her chest. "Worst case would be end of October. It'll be too cold beyond that." He laughs. "If I make it that long."

"You will," Mom says quietly. She looks up at him now, tightens a strap on the backpack.


Excerpted from The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner. Copyright © 2011 Gae Polisner. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
Student Study Guide: Chapter by Chapter Questions
Teacher's guide created by Sarah Andersen, English teacher in Clio, Michigan
Chapter 1:
Within the first chapter, Nick tells us about his family background and leads into the story of "the craziest weekend" of his life. What predictions can you make? How did you visualize him and his family?
Building Vocabulary: Febrile seizures (p. 3), wafting (p. 4), audit (p. 4)
Chapter 2:
Describe Nick's hallucination. Recreate his hallucination by either drawing it, piecing it together with magazine pictures, painting it, etc.
Why did Nick's dad leave his family? Put yourself in Nick's place. Explain how you would react to his dad's email on page 9.
Building Vocabulary: wielding (p. 8), trapezoidal (p. 8), delirious (p. 8), pariah (p. 9)
Chapter 3:
"Mom doesn't seem all that broken up about it." Is Nick's mom really okay with his dad leaving? Explain your thoughts.
What does Nick mean when he says "Not hanging out and not caring are two very different things" (18).
Chapter 4:
What is the Scoot's real name? Why is Nick upset when Jeremy uses his real name?
Describe the dynamics of Nick and Jeremy's relationship.
Prediction: Who is Jaycee Amato? What part will she play in the story?Why do you think Nick's dad is sending him email updates? Do you think he's sending them to Jeremy or the Scoot? Explain your thoughts.
Building Vocabulary: omen (p. 19), naïve (p. 20)Chapter 5:

How would you characterize Nick's mom at this point in the story?

Nick's surprised by Jaycee's interaction with the Scoot. How do you think they know each other? Could they be friends? Explain.

Figurative Language Practice: Find examples of similes within the chapter.

Building Vocabulary: suffice (p. 27), militant (p. 27), ogling (p. 28)
Chapter 6:

Why does Nick become uncomfortable in front of his friends when Jaycee talks about his friendship with the Scoot?

Prediction: What do you think will happen on Nick's "date" with Jaycee?

Building Vocabulary: fiasco (p. 34), warped (p. 38)
Chapter 7:

Nick and Jaycee discuss money and the benefits of living with the "Doofus." Does money buy happiness? Is Jaycee happy? Why or why not?

Why do you think Jaycee has the Scoot's notebook and his copy of Of Mice and Men?

Building Vocabulary: atrocity (p. 45), ostracized (p. 48), waylaid (p. 57)
Chapter 8:

Would you help Jaycee and the Scoot? Explain.

From what we've read so far, what's your opinion of the Scoot's dad? What do you think of the Scoot's goal to find him?

Building Vocabulary: melodrama (p. 60), pendula (p. 63)
Chapter 9:

As Nick and Jaycee get to know each other, Nick learns that Jaycee currently knows the Scoot better than he does. During the conversation about how Jaycee and the Scoot met, Nick wonders why the Scoot didn't tell him. Jaycee responds "Well, I'm sure you didn't ask" (70). What does Jaycee mean by that?

What are your thoughts on how the Scoot is handling his declining health?

Building Vocabulary: deterred (p. 71), periodically (p. 72), crocheted (p. 75)
Chapter 10:

Jaycee says even though Of Mice and Men takes place pretty much over a weekend, you get to know George and Lennie pretty well. Do you feel that way about Nick and Jaycee? Do you think you feel that way by the end of the novel? Explain.

How did you react when Nick tells us the Scoot died?

How are MaeLynn and Nick's dad similar?

Nick and Jaycee discuss the foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men. Find examples of foreshadowing (so far) in The Pull of Gravity.

Building Vocabulary: migrant (p. 78), alienation (p. 87), oversimplified (p. 90)
Chapter 11:

Nick really enjoys listening to Jaycee read to him. Do you enjoy being read to? Did anyone read to you as a child? If so, who?

When have your plans gone awry? Are you a planner like Jaycee, or are you more like Nick when it comes to making plans?

Building Vocabulary: aberration (p. 96), awry (p. 97), infamous (p. 105)
Chapter 12-14:

Define foil character. How is the Scoot's dad (what we know about him) a foil to Nick's dad?

On page 123 Nick says "To its right are cans of Cherry RC Cola. Just like in the vending machine. And that's when it hits me. The water tower. The cherry cola. And, now, the fever. I should have seen it coming." What is he referring to? Why is this important?

How are the dynamics of Nick and Jaycee's relationship changing?

Building Vocabulary: contribution (p. 109), freelance (p. 111), trifecta (p. 125), rouse (p. 128), valor (p. 132), stupor (p. 133), melancholy (p. 137)
Chapter 15-16:

Prediction: What do you think is the name of the luncheonette?

Should Nick tell Jaycee about the poster? What do you think of the poster and its connection with the restaurant and possibly the Scoot? Explain.

Building Vocabulary: vortex (p. 140), affiliate (p. 141), haughty (p. 145), vestibule (p. 152)
Chapter 17-18:

Much is uncovered and discovered in chapter 17 (i.e. Nick's dad with MaeLynn). Did you predict any of this happening? Find examples of foreshadowing that lead us to this point in the novel.

What do you think of Nick's response to his dad's relationship with MaeLynn? To MaeLynn's information about Guy Reyland? How did you respond?

How has Nick's attitude changed in chapter 18? Why is he acting this way?

How do you think the conflicts in this novel will be resolved?

Building Vocabulary: immaculate (p. 166), urgently (p.166)
Chapter 19-20:

How could Nick or Jaycee be characterized as a hero?

Define comic relief. What examples do we have in these two chapters?

Building Vocabulary: concierge (p. 172), idling (p. 175), gloating (p. 180), embankment (p. 184)
Chapter 21-22:

Do you think others would catch Jaycee's reference to Of Mice and Men when she tells the new bus driver, "'We were killing a dog and buying a ranch to tend bunnies!'"

What do you think the Scoot has written to Nick?

How would you feel about the Scoot's letter? Was the Scoot's plan a good idea? Explain.

What do you think Nick will do with the book? What would you do with it?

How do you feel about the end of the story? What do you predict will happen with Nick and Jaycee? How about Nick's family?

Building Vocabulary: damper (p. 191), claustrophobic (p. 198)
Character Analysis Essay
Choose a character from The Pull of Gravity and think about how that character developed throughout the story. What motivated him/her to action? How did the character influence other characters? What are his/her positive and negative traits? This essay is an opportunity to examine and understand a character you related to, loved, or even a character you didn't like.
Gender Issues
The Pull of Gravity is a novel that both male and female readers will enjoy because it has male and female main characters. For your essay, think about how gender influences the actions and personalities of Nick and Jaycee. How would these characters, and the story, be different if their roles were reversed?
Realism and Setting
Nick and Jaycee are written as pretty average teenagers, who go on a journey to fulfill the wish of their dying friend. Most of the setting takes place in upstate New York over a long weekend. As teenagers, do you think you could set off on a journey like Nick and Jaycee? For your essay, think about how prepared, or not prepared, Nick and Jaycee are for this trip. How would you compare on a similar journey? How would you prepare for this? What would you pack? What should Nick and Jaycee have packed that they didn't?
Essays Comparing and Contrasting The Pull of Gravity with Of Mice and Men
These suggested essay topics are provided in the following Connections section of the guide.
Discussion Topics

Both Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity explore themes of friendship and loneliness. How have the characters in both novels displayed important acts of friendship? What other common themes do the two books share?

How have plans gone awry for George and Lennie? For Nick and Jaycee? Do plans ever pan out?

How are the timelines in both books similar? How have Steinbeck and Polisner created characters that invoke strong emotions in the reader in such a short time period?

Jaycee's reading of Of Mice and Men aloud to Nick is a means of carrying Nick from Glenbrook to Rochester in much the same way as the telling of the story of the new ranch with rabbits is a means for George to carry Lennie to the new ranch. Explain.
Figurative Language
Both novels have strong examples of foreshadowing, imagery, idioms, symbolism and more. Do a mini-lesson and/or PowerPoint or Prezi presentation comparing the figurative language used in both novels, possibly using one of the following "jumping off" points:


In Of Mice and Men Steinbeck foreshadows the ultimate act of friendship and the demise of George and Lennie's dream.

In The Pull of Gravity Polisner foreshadows an upheaval with Nick's family and problems with the journey.


Both Of Mice and Men (Chapter 1)and The Pull of Gravity (Chapter 2)use a form of the idiom "bust a gut." Compare and contrast idioms found in Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity. Does the use of idioms create a particular voice or feeling in these books? Do idioms "date" a story? Are they particular to setting? Or are they able to transcend place and time?
Using Graphic Organizers
For better understanding of the two novels, use Venn diagrams to compare Nick and Jaycee to George and Lennie. Use Venn diagrams to compare major themes in both novels such as friendship, loneliness & loss, loyalty, etc.
To understand the plot development of both stories, fill out story maps. by NCTE and the IRA) supplies a number of graphic organizers that can be used in the classroom.
Suggested Essay Topics

Joseph Campbell introduced the concept of the Monomyth or "Hero's Journey"--the main elements being Departure, Initiation, and Return (also sometimes referred to as Separation, Initiation and Return), and each main element having sub-elements such as The Call to Adventure, Refusal of Call (both during Separation or Departure) and Belly of the Whale (at outset of Initiation). Both Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity follow this monomyth in many ways. For example, both stories have strong examples of "The Belly of the Whale," defined as the final separation from the hero's known world and self, a/k/a a character's "lowest point," ("Often the hero will appear to actually be physically swallowed up in something much larger than he is"). It is the point when the character is transitioning between worlds or selves.
Give examples of The Belly of the Whale in Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity, or choose another element of Campbell's Monomyth to discuss and compare and contrast between Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity.
Suggested Essay Topics (continued)

Write a compare/contrast essay focusing on common themes in both Of Mice and Men and The Pull of Gravity such as The American Dream, Friendship, Loyalty, Loneliness, etc.

Write a compare/contrast essay focusing on common elements of story telling e.g. figurative language, idioms, etc
Using Technology

Google Maps

Have students make the journey with Nick & Jaycee and George & Lennie.


Prezi is a wonderful (and free!) alternative to PowerPoint that students can access at home since everything is stored online.
Students can create presentations about the different uses of figurative language, their favorite character, author biographies, etc.
Character Journal
This project allows you to show your creativity while also showing your ability to analyze the characters more thoroughly.

First, choose a character from The Pull of Gravity. It does not have to be the main character. Stepping into the mind of a minor character can make it more interesting to write and read!

Next, write journal entries from this character's point of view. Your journal does not have to cover the entire novel. You may choose to begin the journal in the time before the novel begins or end it after the novel ends. However, some of your journal entries should take place during the time of the novel. Make your choices based on how interesting the journal would be to write and read. Tease the reader of your journal into reading the book.

Your journal should be 3-5 pages. However, this is a guide for length. You should be creative with the format you use to present the journal. There is no set number of journal entries required; put in as many as appropriate.

Please include a cover page with the novel's title, author, character name, as well as your name and class hour.

Remember, be creative! Make the emotions of the character come alive for the reader!
Redesigned Cover
Many covers lately have models that "look" like the character(s) in the novel they're representing. Create a new cover for The Pull of Gravity without using models. Your cover must include the following:
1. The title and the author's name.
2. An "advance praise" blurb-the type another author would offer for the back cover of the book . This can be either your own, or one from another student or friend who has read the book.
3. Symbol(s), key ideas, objects/tokens from the novel.
4. Your own jacket flap (book description/hook) that will grab a reader's attention and interest.
5. An explanation of how your cover connects to The Pull of Gravity (use formal writing, paragraph form, one page minimum, and stapled to the back of your cover).
Novel/Movie Soundtrack
Create a soundtrack for The Pull of Gravity. Choose music that relates to the theme, mood, an event, a character, an idea, etc. Remember, as this is a school project, please use school-appropriate song selections! Please include the following in your Novel/Movie Soundtrack project:
1. Design a cover jacket for your CD soundtrack. You will need to examine other album jacket covers in order to do so. Consider the title, cover art, artists included, etc.
2. Choose at least five songs that you would include on the soundtrack. Place these selections on your CD cover along with their artist.
3. Include an explanation of the connection between each song and the book, including when each song would be played and excerpts from the lyrics that demonstrate why it should be played.

Be creative!

Extra Credit: Turn in your actual soundtrack burned on a CD (10 pts.)
Book Trailer
Using a program like Windows Moviemaker or JayCut (, develop your own book trailer for The Pull of Gravity. Book trailers can serve as a "preview" of the book to grab a potential reader's attention, or it can be created to highlight the main points of the novel. A great book trailer includes images and text that fit with the novel, along with music that suits the mood of the novel.
Book Trailer Checklist:

Is your book trailer 1-1 ½ minutes long?

Does it include pictures that fit with the story?

Is there audio? (This is a MUST for a good book trailer!)

Do you have text to go along with the pictures?

Is this text easy to read (font/color)?

Are the transitions timed long enough for others to read?

Have you included the major points/themes?

Have you checked for any grammatical/spelling errors?

Customer Reviews

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The Pull of Gravity 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 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
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
novelreader4ever More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Scooter Reyland has Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, the disease that accelerates the aging process. Chronologically fifteen, physically Scooter is 80 and does not have long to live. One of his wishes is to find his father, who left when Scooter was a baby, and return the autographed first-edition of Of Mice and Men his father left him. His best friend and next door neighbor, Nick, has problems of his own. His obese father just sits on the couch, while his mother works. After a screaming match between Nick¿s parents, his father decides to walk from upstate New York to Manhattan, reminiscent of Fat Man Walking. When the local news show films a segment on Nick¿s dad, he meets Jaycee Amato, the newscaster¿s step-daughter. Unbeknownst to Nick, she¿s a good friend of the Scoot. She convinces Nick to help her find Scooter¿s dad. While they plan, Scooter dies, but they decide to embark upon their quest.While The Pull of Gravity is nicely written, the story is not compelling. The Scoot is a character people will enjoy; his love of life and his Star Wars addiction. He is a bundle of hope in a hopeless situation. Readers will identify less with the uncertain Nick and the mind-reading Jaycee, although they will cheer on their budding romance. The trek to Rochester, Mr. Reyland¿s last known residence, as well as the action in town is unrealistic and somewhat predictable. Much of the book, especially the ending seems disconnected. The Pull of Gravity is not essential to your collection.
JenniferMReads on LibraryThing 24 days ago
We all hate required reading. In fact, anyone who says they love required reading is lying. Yes, we may love it later but we do not love it at the time we are required to read it.IMHO, the best thing for required reading is companion novels. So, if you have to read Of Mice and Men, also read The Pull of Gravity. Steinbeck, Star Wars, friendship, and a road trip: realistic teen characters will relate Steinbeck¿s epic messages to today¿s teens in a fun way. Yoda gets quoted just as much (maybe more?) as Steinbeck. Yes, there is some heaviness here (pardon the pun, Nick¿s Dad): friend with terminal illness, depressed Dad, abandonment. But all is relayed with a lightness that is refreshing.The shorter chapters and keeping it at just barely over 200 pages, reluctant readers will be able to enjoy this while also being introduced to a key piece of American literature.
theepicrat on LibraryThing 24 days 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.
AnnaKay21 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
So I could not possibly love this book more. If one of John Green's books had a baby it would be this book. And that would be so much more than okay! This is such an odyssey and I loved Nick and Jaycee by the end so much, I didn't want it to be the end!!! Plus the Scoot was so real to me that it made my heart hurt. I laughed so hard when Nick had the fever hallucination of the Cola Can chasing him.....not enough words in the world. I think I want my own copy of this book and the author is totally on my watch list. Cannot WAIT to see where she goes next!
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
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.