Something Like Gravity

Something Like Gravity

by Amber Smith


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For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor & Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534437180
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 06/18/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 73,028
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: HL800L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Amber Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels The Way I Used to Be and The Last to Let Go. An advocate for increased awareness of gendered violence, as well as LGBTQ equality, she writes in the hope that her books can help to foster change and spark dialogue surrounding these issues. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her partner and their ever-growing family of rescued dogs and cats. You can find her online at

Read an Excerpt

Something Like Gravity

  • EIGHT MINUTES. THAT’S HOW LONG it takes light from the Sun to reach Earth. That means every time we look up at the sky, we can only ever see the Sun as it was eight minutes ago, never how it is right in this moment.

    The next closest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, at 4.2 light-years away. That’s 25 trillion miles. It would take tens of thousands of years to get there. And the farthest stars are millions of light-years away. Far enough that so many of the stars we see don’t even exist anymore; they’ve died in the time it took for their light to reach us. All we can see is the past, but only so far—13 billion light-years. Anything beyond that is simply too distant, and the light hasn’t had enough time to reach us yet.

    There’s something about that. Something fascinating. Terrifying. Beautiful.

    But sometimes I wish that for just once I could see into the future, not on an astronomical scale, maybe just two or three years into my own life. If I could know ahead of time how this will all turn out, whether I’ll be okay or not, then maybe I’d be a lot less scared, a lot less angry, right now.

    That’s what I was thinking about in the backseat, as I stared out the window, watching the scenery on the I-90 turn like seasons, from suburbs to city to suburbs to country and back again. Until now, my parents had only spoken once in two and a half hours, and that was to tell me to turn my music down.

    “Chris?” I pretended not to hear. “Chris,” Mom repeated, louder, twisting around in her seat.

    My dad’s eyes ticked up to meet mine in the rearview mirror.

    I pulled my headphones down around my neck. That was all the response I’d give her.

    She stared at me like she was trying really hard to see something in me, see someone in me. “Is this punishment?” she asked. “You’re trying to punish me by doing this?”

    “Sure,” I muttered.

    Monosyllabic. I learned that word when I was seven, as in Mom hated when I would give her monosyllabic answers instead of full sentences, which is why I used them strategically.

    “I said I was sorry, Chris.” She hadn’t, actually. “You hate me that much?” she asked, and I could tell by the sharp edges of her words that I was making her angry. Good.

    “Whate’er,” I mumbled, smashing the word down to a single, compact sound. I hadn’t spoken more than one-syllable words to Mom in two days, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to start now.

    “I—you—” she began, but stopped herself, realizing we’d had this fight a million times already, not only over the last two days, but the whole past year, and no one ever ended up winning. She turned to Dad instead. “A little help, Joe? I mean, really. God, she just—”

    “He,” Dad interrupted. “Okay? Can we just let it be?” He cut his eyes to her, not quite raising his voice. It takes a lot for him to actually get angry, but lately that quality has only seemed to enrage my mom.

    “Let it be?” she repeated, this bitter laugh vibrating under her words. “Fine.” She jerked herself around in the seat, crossing her arms and making a point to stare straight ahead, without a sound. But I could see her working the muscles of her jaws, clenching her teeth like she was chewing up whatever words were left over in her mouth.

    Dad watched me in the rearview again, his eyes wanting to tell me something I don’t think he knew how to say with his voice. That he was trying. That maybe part of him understood part of me. That he was on my side. Sometimes.

    He looked forward again, rolled his head from side to side, and then readjusted his grip on the steering wheel, accelerating to just above the speed limit. I put my headphones back on and closed my eyes.

    •  •  •

    All I’d done was dare to leave my house. All I wanted was a little freedom, just a tiny amount of control over my own life.

    Two days ago I woke up early, before my parents. The house was quiet and the day was perfect. I started getting dressed, laced up my running shoes. I was planning on heading down to the basement to use Mom’s old treadmill, like I did most mornings.

    But somehow, I walked out of the front door instead.

    I took three easy steps down our porch stairs, then into the driveway, and then down the sidewalk. First I just jogged. Past our neighbor’s house, then up to the stop sign at the corner. I was going to turn around.

    But as my feet hit the pavement, falling into that old familiar rhythm, I ran. Ran the way I used to before school, back when they still let me go to school. I didn’t mean to be gone for so long. Maybe I knew they’d be worrying, but I just couldn’t care anymore. I couldn’t keep living inside their fear, because, as much as I hated to admit it, their fear was contagious and it was beginning to become mine too.

    Yes, I forgot to bring my phone, but that was an accident.

    When I got back, they were waiting for me in the living room. They’d even called Coleton, my only remaining real-life, flesh-and-blood friend, who was sitting on the couch looking like he’d just rolled out of bed. I walked through the door, and Dad stopped, midpace, stood very still, and yelled, really yelled, “Where the hell have you been?” in a voice that sounded like a stranger’s. Coleton stood quickly, and I distinctly remember the look on his face as he approached me. He came so close, I actually thought he was going to hit me, but instead he just stood in front of me and said, “You’re good.” I couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement, but I didn’t have time to respond because he shook his head and elbowed past me, slamming the door behind him on his way out.

    Mom didn’t say anything.

    She marched up to me with yesterday’s mascara streaked in angry black lines across her cheeks, and pushed me. Shoved me, hard, against the door. And then she took a step back, and I remember it happening almost in slow motion. I heard it before I felt it. Like that sharp crack of the door slamming shut again. Except it took me a second to realize that sound was her hand against my cheek. A slap. The feeling spread like a million tiny needles piercing the side of my face one after the other. She had never hit me before; neither of my parents had ever hit me, not so much as a single spanking as a child. I don’t remember if anyone said anything; I just remember Mom backing up slowly, looking at me as if I was the one who’d hit her.

    I stormed up the stairs to my bedroom, grabbed my phone, and saw that I had forty-seven missed calls, eighteen voice mails, and twenty-nine text messages from the three of them.

    That was when I called Isobel. Because she had promised me she’d be there if I ever needed anything. And I desperately did.

    •  •  •

    The chirping of the turn signal woke me. Then the rumble of loose gravel under the tires made me sit up. I looked around as we were finally pulling into the driveway that led up to Aunt Isobel’s house, which used to be my mom’s house too; it was the house they grew up in.

    After ten hours of sitting in the four-door pressure cooker that was our family car, I jumped out the instant Dad shifted into park.

    “Holy shit,” I mumbled under my breath. This was really, truly the middle of nowhere. People say that, but I always thought it was an exaggeration. Not this time. Nothing but farms and fields and woods as far as I could see. I’d only ever seen this place in old photographs; it felt strange to be here in person. Exactly what I was expecting, yet nothing like it at all. The only thing that resembled civilization was the old, dilapidated house that stood in front of me, the place that would be home for the next two and a half months.

    I had the urge to run again—to run and keep on running forever. But just then, I caught sight of Isobel on the front porch. She was wearing her nurse’s scrubs and leaning up against a post that also leaned, supporting an awning that sloped too far downward to be structurally sound. Her feet were bare as she descended the steps, and as she came closer I could tell from her heavy eyelids and her casual smile that she was tired. She must’ve just gotten off work. But something changed in her face when our eyes met, like we were coconspirators and this whole mess, this whole fucked-up year, was all part of some elaborate plan that was working out perfectly because it had brought us together, right here, right now.

    Isobel could make me believe in a lot of things.

    She was holding her arms open, and as I walked toward her I remembered everything I loved about her all at once. And I felt less like running away. Isobel is older than Mom by three years, but still, I’ve always thought of her as the cool, young aunt. She’s brave. Does her own thing and doesn’t care what people think—like last year, how she streaked her hair electric blue, just because. Or when she got that bird tattoo when my grandma died.

    I usually only get to see her once or twice a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas, or sometimes she’ll make the trip for a special birthday or anniversary.

    She’ll come for bad things too. Like Grandma’s funeral. Or like last fall, when I was beaten so bad that I was in the hospital—she was there then. She was also there when I got out, and she stayed with us for the six weeks it took for me to get better. She forced me to do all the painful physical therapy, and even let me hate her for pushing me so hard. She wouldn’t let me give up. She made me strong again, even stronger than I was before.

    “Chris, my goodness! Look at you, come here.” She gave me a quick, firm hug. Not a long, drawn-out pity hug, for which I was thankful. When she pulled away, she shielded her eyes from the sun as she looked up at me, then took my chin in her other hand and said, like it was no big deal, “So handsome.”

    But before I could respond, Mom appeared right next to me, saying, “Hello, Isobel,” her voice all tight and annoyed and disapproving.

    “Sheila, good to see you.” Isobel flashed a smile that was so much warmer than my mom deserved, but then she gave me a wink when Mom wasn’t looking.

    The three of us stood there, silent, as we waited for Dad to trudge up from the car, struggling to carry four of my bags at once. As he set them down on the ground and looked at Isobel, he smiled—a real smile—for the first time in a long time.

    Isobel pulled him into a hug that lasted just a few seconds too long. Definitely a pity hug—poor old Joe and his nasty wife and his screwed-up kid that he doesn’t know what to do with anymore.

    Mom looked down at the ground and cleared her throat. As my dad and Isobel pulled apart, Isobel said, “How you doing, Joey?”

    “Joey?” He scoffed. “Please, you make it sound like I’m twelve years old.”

    “What can I say? In my mind you’ll always be a twelve-year-old.” She clapped him on the shoulder and reached over to mess up his thinning hair, but he ducked away quickly.

    Dad and Isobel graduated high school the same year. They used to date when they were my age, and that’s how my mom and dad first met: Mom was Dad’s girlfriend’s little sister. It’s hard to imagine any of them being my age. It’s hard to imagine Dad with Isobel.

    Isobel always said they were better as friends. And Dad never said much about it at all. They still had this sibling-like banter that always seemed to make Mom so jealous. All my life, she had made these little comments about it, jokes usually. But there was no humor in Mom’s face now, as she leveled the two of them with her eyes.

    Sometimes I wonder if my parents were ever really happy, if it was me who did this to them. Maybe there’s something like the speed of light when it comes to love, too. Like they were doomed before they ever started, but it’s just taken seventeen years for them to be able to see it.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Something Like Gravity 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
    HugsandKissesforBooks 1 days ago
    Tough situations handled well by author! Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Margaret K. McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith! First we meet Chris, who’s changed identities. Next is Maia who has lost her sister Mallory. Both main characters feel lost and, while Chris is struggling with the transformation of being transgender, Maia is trying to figure out the basics of who she is without her sister. The two of them work through some of their struggles together but Maia seems to be having a more difficult time adjusting personally than Chris. Transgenderism is handled perfectly from all perspectives, personal, family, friends and romantic relationships. Being transgender would be difficult enough as it is, but adding a relationship would make everything even more complicated. How and when do you tell your romantic interest or even just a new friend? They have a right to know, so their feelings are respected too. The author approaches these issues gently and respectfully for all sides involved. Losing a loved one is also part of this book and that’s something that all of us will have to deal with at sometime in our lives. These tough situations are handled well by the author, who also shares her own experiences with sexuality. I wish the cover was better though; I can see it being a deterrent for readers. 3.5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
    bjneary 4 days ago
    Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, and Margaret K. McElderry Books for the advance reader copy of Something Like Gravity by Nicole Amber Smith, in exchange for an honest review. Just as I loved Amber Smith’s first YA book, The Way I Used to Be, so did I love and tremendously enjoy, Something Like Gravity. Amber Smith’s characterizations were authentic and sympathetic and spot on. Chris is such an honest, likable character and Maia is in so much pain as she struggles (even after a year) with her older sister’s sudden death. The parents were so realistic too; Chris’ mom and dad are supportive but it is not easy (Chris questions many of their emotions and motives) while Maia’s parents are grief stricken, isolated, angry and barely speaking to one another. Maia’s friends stay by her side as Maia ignores their texts and pleas to hang out. I could not stop turning the pages as Chris and Maia, strangers at first, become friends and much more. But will they forgive each other as secrets become exposed? This is an honest look at teen bullying, friendship, grief, and forgiveness. Amber Smith uses understanding and compassion in a must-read gripping story. Highly recommended.
    CelestialReads 22 days ago
    TW: sexual assault, transphobia, assault, death, grief This is probably my favorite Amber Smith novel to date (which is a tough feat because The Way I Used to Be was everything). Pros: The romance was swoon city. I was rooting for Chris and Maia since the moment the characters met. Their romance was heart melting; they treated each other with such kindness, understanding, and respect. Plus the slow burn built up tension... Ugh. Chris is probably my new favorite YA contemporary character. He is so sweet and pure and too good for this world. The author did an amazing job expressing his experiences and emotions; you really felt angry, heart broken, and happy with him. Maia is also a really well developed character; the author really captured the expression of grief with her. There were a lot of really good discussions on consent and healthy communication in Chris and Maia's relationship. I also really appreciated Chris's appreciation and understanding about a woman's need to be cautious around men. Cons: Wasn't 100% happy with the ending for obvious reasons for those who have read the book; but it didn't detract from my feelings about the book. All over a very solid YA contemporary romance, definitely my favorite of the year and maybe even of all time.
    Amanda_BetweentheShelves 24 days ago
    After Chris almost runs over Maia with his car, their relationship isn't off to the best start. But since Chris is new in town and doesn't know Maia's past, they gravitate toward each other. After all, they are neighbors, at least for the summer. They can't ignore each other forever, especially in a small town like Carson. Not only is Maia struggling with the death of her sister, but Chris has his own baggage. After recently coming out as transgender and suffering a terrifying assault, he's struggling to figure out how to move forward as himself. But as the summer goes on, the two figure out that maybe they need each other in order to move on from both of their pasts. Though romance is at the back of both of their minds, maybe them falling in love was inevitable.  Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy to review! Before we get into the nitty-gritty, can we just admire how absolutely beautiful this cover is? It's one of the reasons I requested it on NetGalley in the first place, though I had heard great things about the book as well. It should have been included on my June Releases to Watch Out For post, because it's definitely one you should keep an eye on. Told in alternating chapters, we really get to get in the heads of both Maia and Chris. Despite a rocky beginning, they quickly become close, utilizing the freedom of summer to just be together. One of the things I enjoyed the most about was the journey that both of the characters go through. They're both struggling with their own problems, but with each other, they're able to kind of work through them, and I thought that was beautiful. I also did a bit of research about this book, because it's a book with a transgender narrator by someone who isn't transgender. I always like to see if these stories are authentic to the voice they're portraying. For the most part, it seems like Smith does it justice, as long as you keep in mind that it isn't own voices. But! We should also make sure to support stories from Own Voices authors as well. I'll be doing a post about that later this month! All in all, Something Like Gravity is a beautiful love story whose release date is perfectly settled in the middle of Pride Month. If you're looking for a slightly different romance to read this summer, definitely pick this one up! 4/5 stars
    Bookyogi 24 days ago
    There is a lot going on here in this book and all seem to play a part in what the author is trying to convey in this book. Love and loss and violence and pain and acceptance and hurt and death and mourning and separation and more love and so much more. Chris, a transgender, is such an endearing character, and Maia came into his life at the right time, but they just had to go through what they did to get to where they need to be. I would love to see a second book, ten years later; I bet Chris is going to be an amazing role model. On a side note, had I not read the synopsis on this book, the cover would have kept me from reading this book. I don’t think it does the story justice.
    Bookyogi 24 days ago
    There is a lot going on here in this book and all seem to play a part in what the author is trying to convey in this book. Love and loss and violence and pain and acceptance and hurt and death and mourning and separation and more love and so much more. Chris, a transgender, is such an endearing character, and Maia came into his life at the right time, but they just had to go through what they did to get to where they need to be. I would love to see a second book, ten years later; I bet Chris is going to be an amazing role model. On a side note, had I not read the synopsis on this book, the cover would have kept me from reading this book. I don’t think it does the story justice.
    MsArdychan 29 days ago
    Please Note: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.. With an intriguing set up, and strong characters, Something Like Gravity, by Amber Smith, is sure to remind readers of other books such as Love, Simon. Chris and Maia are two complicated teens. Chris is transgender and still recovering from a vicious physical attack. Maia is trying to make sense of her life since the passing of her older sister. Both have fractured family lives. They are instantly drawn together. But will their secrets tear them apart? The characters don't have all the answers, but they do want to grow as people. Although at times the pacing is slow, this book was romantic and ultimately, satisfying.
    Courtneymcreative 30 days ago
    I quickly realized that "Gravity" is not just about romance, but about a lot more; grief, healing after trauma, identity…It’s a coming of age (and even a little of a coming out) story as much as it’s a story of first love. I really appreciated the many topics that it tackled, and well, without ever seeming over dramatic or unbelievable. Some tropes were used, a few in particular which may irk readers who are more familiar with them, but I thought that the story moved forward from them gracefully, using them as a jumping-off point for explorations of deeper ideas. All of these aspects had a nice, slow burn. We get to know what has happened to each of the characters bit by bit as they gradually get to know each other. I love this method because it helps to push the narrative forward with a greater force than if more had been revealed sooner, drawing in further tension. I was happy to see that the wait was worth it when it came to the romantic elements, since "Gravity" gives just the right amount of steamy scenes to satisfy and propel the relationship forward into the third act. The plot is brought to life with a detailed, almost cinematic, writing style. This works well with the story and the small town setting, which was described realistically. "Gravity" switches naturally between Maia and Chris’s perspectives, giving them both their unique voice, which makes it difficult not to sympathize with them and what they’re going through. I really felt like I got to know, understand, and relate to both characters over the course of the story. Because of all of these things, I wanted to love this story so badly, and I did at the beginning. But I felt my adoration waning as I continued reading. A large part of this, I think, was that, although I liked both Maia and Chris as main characters, I began to ship them together less and less over the course of the book as Maia makes some questionable choices. I understood why she does everything that she does but I couldn’t help but begin to think that Chris deserved better, and that perhaps they were not actually meant for each other. Perhaps I didn’t know well enough why they liked each other so much to begin with, and whether those reasons were real or based on lies. I still liked Maia, don’t get me wrong, but I just couldn’t see what she was bringing to Chris’s life that he wouldn’t have been better without. I don’t think all readers will agree with me, and there will likely be plenty of people who think of Chris and Maia as their new OTP. But I won’t be one of them, as much as I wanted to be. I relied on the ending to bring me closure and explanation for this but found myself disappointed. Not only did the ending not help me to understand why I should want them to be together, but it seemed to be overall too quick and inconclusive. The last section leaves things relatively open-ended for the characters. The last few lines, to me, made it unclear as to what was going to happen to them and how exactly they had affected each other’s lives. I didn’t quite understand what meaning I was supposed to take from the final line, although I could tell it was supposed to bring a certain impact. Again, some readers will likely enjoy the ending. But because I was already beginning to doubt my stake in the story, it was not enough for me. That being said, I did really enjoy "Gravity" overall. Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read an E-arc in exchange for an honest review!
    LibrarLee 30 days ago
    A beautiful summer romance story that goes way beyond romance. Main characters Chris and Maia think that they're meeting at exactly the wrong time. Chris is recovering from a brutal attack and beginning to transition, and feeling like his mom hates him. He's in Carson to get away from it all, definitely not to fall in love. Maia is working through her grief and bewilderment and guilt over her sister's sudden death, everything in her life, her folks, her friends, everything, seems to be falling apart, definitely not good a time to go head over heels for the new boy in town. The writing is superb, the characters take on life beyond the page, readers will be right in there with them, hoping and having hopes dashed, hurting and healing and learning and growing right along with Chris, Maia and their loved ones. The story will resonate with readers on multiple levels, from LGBTQIA+ folks, to their loved ones and allies. A must read for those who enjoyed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and It's Not Like It's a Secret.