I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Gravity is the Thing!
I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good after reading a novel that deals with grief and loss! Abigail (Abi) Sorensen, the novel’s protagonist, has experienced more than her fair share of tragedy in life. The day before Abi turned sixteen, Robert, her fifteen-year-old brother/ best friend, had run away from home and disappeared without a trace. Theirs had been a happy family, but the tension Robert’s disappearance caused had led to the divorce of her parents, making Abi move through life with a deep sense of pain that had only increased when her husband, who was supposed to be the love of her life, left her for another woman.
In another writer’s hands, Abi’s story would have likely ended up being a sobfest! But not here. When we meet this firecracker of a woman, she is thirty-six, owns Happiness Cafe in Sydney, and single-mom to Oscar, an adorable four-year-old. Abi still hasn’t come into terms with Robert’s disappearance or the breakup of her marriage, but she hasn’t given up on her pursuit of happiness either. So what better way to find herself again than by going on an all-expenses-paid retreat sponsored by The Guidebook, a mysterious self-help book that had started steering her life and comforting her roughly around the time Robert went missing?
Even though the (mind-boggling) truth about The Guidebook Abi finds at the retreat doesn’t turn out to be what she was expecting, she meets a bunch of eccentric people there. And over the next year they help her wrestle the feelings of guilt she has been carrying around – underneath her bubbly personality, Abi is prone to self-flagellation, and has been blaming herself for every tragedy in her life. So it was exhilarating to see Abi finally accepting that the bad things in her life didn’t happen because of things she did or didn’t do.
Gravity is the Thing is a wildly funny and a delightfully quirky novel, and I almost want to say it reads like a rom-com. But I fear such a comparison might do it a disservice as its plot has so much depth. I loved how Jaclyn Moriarty (who is Liane Moriarty‘s sister, by the way) challenges society’s perceived perceptions of grief and coping – like how someone with a missing family member isn’t fully allowed to grieve because the missing person might still return, and premature grieving “screams” giving up. Or how some think that losing one’s spouse to another woman/ man could be any less painful than losing them to a long illness or sudden death.
So this, I think, is a literary fiction that doesn’t take itself too seriously; a novel that will leave you laughing out loud, even when tears flow down your face! 4.5 stars.
Note: Many thanks to Harper for sending me a review copy of Gravity is the Thing.
** You can buy a copy of Gravity is the Thing here on Book Depository with free shipping.