As a teen, I was a huge fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s quirky, personable epistolary YA, so I was really excited to see that she had written her first adult novel! It captures that same eccentric spirit as her YA works, but manages to be something completely different.
Book: Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley for fair review.
I don’t read a lot of adult ‘chick lit’, as I’ve rarely been able to connect with the characters due to them being in very different life circumstances to me – nothing against the genre or its readers! I was thrilled to find here that although main character Abi is a single parent to a five year old, she’s also weird in the same ways that Moriarty’s YA characters were weird – trying to figure out her place in life, not feeling like an adult yet, and ultimately embracing her own quirks. Abi’s voice has something unusual about it – she’s kind of overly dramatic but also worried about her own mundanity. It feels like she’s writing in her own diary, which is what I’ve always loved about Moriarty – it’s a talent to capture that self-conscious spark of someone writing about themselves and not have it be annoying! Abi was never annoying. She felt like a real person talking about things in the way that real people do.
The plot of the book centres around a mysterious self-help guidebook that Abi and others have been receiving excerpts from all their lives, delivered by post to wherever they are. She attends a weekend retreat that promises to solve the mysteries of the letters – except it turns out that it isn’t a self-help book using metaphors about flying, it actually is a guide to flying. Ridiculous though it is, she becomes drawn into a group of people who want to find out more. The conceit of the letters is so perfectly, weirdly Moriarty! It’s reminiscent of the pen-pal scheme that forms the backbone of her YA books, which instantly put me at my ease, but it does very different things. There’s a part of this book where you wonder if it’s going to be magical realism, but at its heart this is a novel about people embracing silliness and childishness, and finding themselves once they relax.
It’s very hard to categorise this book. It’s a delight to read, but it will make you think – it tackles some dark issues amongst its light-heartedness. It just feels like a book full of kindness and heart and love, and reading it made me smile. Four out of five cats from me!