Australian YA author Jaclyn Moriarty (The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars) soars in this raw, dryly funny adult debut.
Since the age of 16, Abigail Sorensen has lived under the shadow cast by the absence of her twin brother and best friend, Robert, who disappeared on their birthday. Despite years of searching, Abi's family and the authorities never found him, leaving her with a grief too tainted by questions and residual hope to ever heal.
Now a cafe owner and single mother, 35-year-old Abi travels to tiny Taylor Island to solve the other great mystery of her life. For years, chapters of a cryptic self-help book called The Guidebook have shown up in Abi's mailbox, unsolicited and unexplained. Wilbur, the writers' son, has invited all Guidebook recipients to the island. In a setup evocative of an adult version of The Westing Game, Abi and a small handful of strangers will compete to learn the truth about the book, with bizarre results. The comradeship she forms with the other Guidebook readers, including attractive but distant Niall, regret-filled Nicole and disgruntled Pete, lead Abi back through a past filled with mistakes, open wounds and the ever-present specter of her lost brother. In beautifully snarky first person, Abi narrates a mix of scenes from her past and increasingly serendipitous moments in her present that may lead to catastrophe or to the answers and healing she has always craved.
In Gravity Is the Thing, Moriarty offers an examination of modern womanhood, a satire of the self-help industry and a searing exploration of unresolved grief. Abi juggles single parenthood, her small business and dating with mixed success, unfairly placing all blame for any failures on her own shoulders. Deciding to expand her self-help reading beyond The Guidebook, she reads classics of the genre, including Tuesdays with Morrie, in which "[a] former student...comes by to leech the remnants of the old man's wisdom," and I'm OK--You're OK, which leaves her wanting to strangle its author. Although Abi mocks the books, she also can't help trying their advice but achieves less-than-stellar results.
At its heart, Moriarty's complex and nimble plot serves as a vehicle for a deeper story of the devastating, lifelong trauma caused by a great loss. In between adorable moments with her mercurial toddler and quirky excerpts from The Guidebook, Abi relates the exhaustion and isolation of grief in wry but heartrending detail. Redemptive and hopeful, Gravity Is the Thing announces the arrival of a fresh, funny and perceptive voice in adult fiction. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads
Shelf Talker: YA author Jaclyn Moriarty makes her adult fiction debut in style with this offbeat, heartfelt story of a woman struggling 20 years after the disappearance of her twin brother.