Review of “Gravity is the Thing” by Jaclyn Moriarty

Abigail (“Abi”) Sorensen was just turning 16 when her beloved brother Robert, recently diagnosed with M.S., disappeared. She and her parents were devastated, and it changed the course of their lives. The parents eventually got divorced and Abi became obsessed with loss and the pursuit of some kind of closure, going down every self-help road she could find. One of the most enduring was a mysterious book she had been receiving chapter by chapter continuously since that fateful year called “The Guidebook.”

When the story opens Abi is now 35 with a four-year-old son named Oscar. She manages the “Happiness Cafe” in Sydney, Australia and has just accepted an offer for an all-expenses-paid trip for a weekend retreat “Where you will Learn the Truth about The Guidebook.” She joined twenty-six others for activities led by a man named Wilbur, who encouraged them to “let go” and free their minds, with the ultimate goal of flying – whether metaphorical or actual was unclear to the participants. At the conclusion of the weekend, they were invited to continue the “lessons” at Wilbur’s apartment in Sydney on a weekly basis.

As the story goes back and forth in time, we read, interspersed throughout, the chapters that were sent to the recipients over the years, as well as excerpts from the “yearly thoughts” they were encouraged to send in return to the authors of “The Guidebook.” In the present, we accompany Abi in her ceaseless efforts, via self-help books, to find answers in her life, or even happiness.

At one point Abi says:

“The Guidebook was absurdity: inexplicable, inscrutable; and so was my brother being gone. Hence, the two must be connected. That is why I never cancelled my subscription: a part of me never stopped believing that, eventually, the one mystery would unravel the other.”

I would certainly agree about her assessment of “The Guidebook” and in fact, I found the content of the Guidebook chapters to be annoying as well as absurd. Abi was also very annoying, but she had psychological “issues” that explained her. She blamed herself for Robert’s disappearance, as well as for the disappearance of others in her life – boyfriends, friends, a husband . . . but her self-obsession was grating. Her son Oscar was a horrible kid with anger management issues to which she seemed oblivious. In fact, all the characters, including Wilbur, had “issues” which explained in part why the adults continued to participate in the weekly sessions.

I didn’t really like the book at all until the end, when some explanations were provided and some of the protagonists found a way to be rid of their constraints at last. But it didn’t make reading it feel worthwhile to me. I thought there was too much in the book that was extraneous to the main story and could have been eliminated, and too much in the main story that was absurd and irritating.

Rating: 2.5/5

Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2019

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5 Responses to Review of “Gravity is the Thing” by Jaclyn Moriarty

  1. Beth F says:

    Okay then! Taking this off my list. But had to laugh at the “Oscar was a horrible kid”!

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    That sounds rather convoluted to me.

  3. Mystica says:

    I doubt I’ll go through the entire book to find the bit that I’d like.

  4. Oh, interesting!! Another friend of mine read this book and LOVED it, like just absolutely went crazy for it, so now I don’t know what to expect. I kinda want to read it now just to see!

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