Plot: The cover girl wears a typical high school kilt, in black, mid thigh, with a confidant swagger. She is Lindsay; the first love of our main character and Orthodox Jewish teenager, confused and earth-loving, Ellisheva Gold (Ellie for short). In this realistic fiction narrative of coming to terms with Spirituality, Sexuality, and Love, Ellie walks us through her day-to-day family squabbles, her need for prayer, and her coming-out. Gravity asks, ‘Can a girl be Jewish, study geology, and love girls too?’ Before Lindsay, the question didn’t even exist for Ellie, but now…
Two things to keep in mind: 1-There is a glossary in the back of the book, so don’t panic if you get lost with the Jewish lingo, and 2-You don’t have to be Jewish or a Lesbian to enjoy this book! This was a very fun and inspiring read. Somehow, the author draws you into the family life and the scared nature of this protagonist.
What is intriguing about this single monograph?
Ellie pulls her hair and mutilates herself. For a young adult novel, this single characteristic isn’t over emphasized, but deserves adequate attention. Moments of the novel are inundated with portions of pain. While her family is off to Israel, poor Ellie is trapped in a world of American psychosis. She wants to find love, but instead, does what most of us frown upon, looks outwardly and succumbs to underage sex in awkward positions, all due to the bad parenting of her first underappreciated lover. She does finds the meaning of love in the end, which makes this a useful young adult read. However, as an adult, you’ll wish that her mother wasn’t so self-involved into spiritual conquest that she would notice her daughter putting her body at risk with a girl who plays hitchhike games with strangers in large cars. Throughout the reading, I continued to wonder, will Ellie catch an STD, will Ellie’s older sister pay any attention to her coming out instead of trying to rebel against the customs that her parents have lain out for her. We all want to escape home, go away to school in Europe, and major in some form of economics, don’t we? As a senior in high school, I actually just wanted to get laid and avoid college altogether! Lieberman has accomplished the task of outlining the ways in which times have evolved for the new generation of orthodykes by fairly segmenting class, culture, education, and passion into colorful threads of an interwoven tapestry for coming of age.
Not your ordinary teen romance novel, Gravity will take you for a spin that you’ve never imagined could exist for a teen with well-developed characters and scenic memories of long summers by a random pond with a post-seventies hippie grandmother. I recommend it with caution. Do note that the young adult who reads this may personalize not only the main character, but the unresolved object of affection, Lindsay who, at the novel’s end is still seeking attention from her mother by riding in cars with boys and bathing with innocent little Ellie Gold’s.
Lieberman plays with morality by blurring the lines of non-heteronormativity, making deviance non-negotiable, where a kiss with a girl weighs just as heavy as forgetting to observe shabbos. In Gravity you can’t help but wonder,
“is Ellie a lesbian, or just a bad Jew”?
And as someone whose Brooklyn residency doesn’t quite make her a Jewish dyke (even though I could stake a claim), after reading Gravity, I wonder,
“is there a difference”?