Letting Go of Gravity
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication date: July 17th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“The anticipation and slow burn of Parker and Finn’s relationship is electric…[an] absorbing novel that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell.” —Booklist
Parker struggles to reconnect with her twin brother, Charlie—who’s recovering from cancer—as she tries to deal with her anxiety about the future in this powerful new novel.
Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites. Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful. Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please. Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved. And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got cancer. Parker didn’t.
But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.
Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.
That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.
From the Author:
Back in 2000, strange messages started appearing on major overpasses in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, e.g. “TONY DANZA IS MY DAD” and “I PLAY YOGA.” Each time I saw one, I was surprised, confused, and delighted. Later identified as the work of artists Buddy Lembeck and Darius Jones, they were my first introduction to the marvelous world of street art.
In Letting Go of Gravity, my main character Parker goes through a similar experience. When strange messages start appearing on bridges in her town, she wants to know what they’re about. Ultimately they become the first step in her journey of self-discovery.
I was really excited to work street art into a novel, because I love it. For me, it represents a disruption of the everyday, a little bit of the unexpected that asks you to stop and look at the space around you differently. Parker in particular needs that jolt to start thinking about her world in new ways.
If you’re looking for some similar inspiration, here are some artists to check out:
Invader: An anonymous French street artist, Invader places ceramic tile compositions of old video game characters around major cities. You never know when one will appear, which makes finding them all the more exciting. There’s even an app, so you can register the ones you find, like a scavenger hunt!
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: This artist uses street art to combat harassment, creating posters with images of women and captions about their experiences being harassed. Titled “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” the project is an incredibly powerful statement about the way words are used to control women in public spaces, and how women can take some of the power back.
Os Gemeos: Identical twin brothers from Brazil, Os Gemeos create vibrant murals inspired by folk art, hip hop, and Brazilian culture. Their creations are both dream-like and grounded in the world around you, and their appearance in the world makes you feel like you’ve discovered a little bit of magic.
Steve Powers: Powers used to create street art under the name ESPO. Now a full-time artist, he creates word-based and iconic images under his own name. Bright, blocky letters share messages like “YOUR EVERAFTER IS ALL I’M AFTER” and “LETS ADORE AND ENDURE EACH OTHER.” (Powers’ work majorly inspires the street artist in my book.)
Jenny Holzer: Conceptual artist Jenny Holzer’s work involves using words to deliver brief truisms on billboards and walls and galleries. Each one is strange and wonderful, e.g. “Protect me from what I want” and “In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy.” Holzer’s work startles you out of the everyday, asking you to question and tease out what she means.
These are only a few of the artists who inspire me. Are there some more that you love?
A former bookseller and teacher, Meg Leder currently works as a book editor in New York City. Her role models are Harriet the Spy and Anne Shirley. She is the co-author of The Happy Book, and spends her free time reading, looking for street art, and people-watching. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.