Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith is the story of a transgender boy, a grieving girl, and how they fell in love. Read an excerpt right here!
Chris and Maia are thrown into each other’s path one day, and it seems like ever since then, they can’t help but bump into each other everywhere they go. For now, they’re neighbors, but soon, they might become something more.
Something Like Gravity promises to be a romantic and sweet novel akin to Love, Simon and Eleanor & Park. If that sounds like just the kind of book you’re looking for, then be sure to read the excerpts below, which gives us a perspective from each of our main characters.
‘Something Like Gravity’ exclusive excerpt
Eight minutes. That’s how long it takes light from the Sun to reach Earth. That means every time we look up at the sky, we can only ever see the Sun as it was eight minutes ago, never how it is right in this moment.
The next closest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, at 4.2 light-years away. That’s 25 trillion miles. It would take tens of thousands of years to get there. And the farthest stars are millions of light-years away. Far enough that so many of the stars we see don’t even exist anymore; they’ve died in the time it took for their light to reach us. All we can see is the past, but only so far—13 billion light-years. Anything beyond that is simply too distant, and the light hasn’t had enough time to reach us yet.
There’s something about that. Something fascinating. Terrifying. Beautiful.
But sometimes I wish that for just once I could see into the future, not on an astronomical scale, maybe just two or three years into my own life.
If I could know ahead of time how this will all turn out, whether I’ll be okay or not, then maybe I’d be a lot less scared, a lot less angry, right now.
That’s what I was thinking about in the backseat, as I stared out the window, watching the scenery on the I-90 turn like seasons, from suburbs to city to suburbs to country and back again. Until now, my parents had only spoken once in two and a half hours, and that was to tell me to turn my music down.
“Chris?” I pretended not to hear. “Chris,” Mom repeated, louder, twisting around in her seat.
My dad’s eyes ticked up to meet mine in the rearview mirror.
I pulled my headphones down around my neck. That was all the response I’d give her.
She stared at me like she was trying really hard to see something in me, see someone in me. “Is this punishment?” she asked. “You’re trying to punish me by doing this?”
“Sure,” I muttered.
Monosyllabic. I learned that word when I was seven, as in Mom hated when I would give her monosyllabic answers instead of full sentences, which is why I used them strategically. “I said I was sorry, Chris.” She hadn’t, actually. “You hate me that much?” she asked, and I could tell by the sharp edges of her words that I was making her angry. Good.
“Whate’er,” I mumbled, smashing the word down to a single, compact sound. I hadn’t spoken more than one-syllable words to Mom in two days, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to start now.
“I—you—” she began, but stopped herself, realizing we’d had this fight a million times already, not only over the last two days, but the whole past year, and no one ever ended up winning. She turned to Dad instead. “A little help, Joe? I mean, really. God, she just—”
“He,” Dad interrupted. “Okay? Can we just let it be?” He cut his eyes to her, not quite raising his voice. It takes a lot for him to actually get angry, but lately that quality has only seemed to enrage my mom.
“Let it be?” she repeated, this bitter laugh vibrating under her words. “Fine.” She jerked herself around in the seat, crossing her arms and making a point to stare straight ahead, without a sound. But I could see her working the muscles of her jaws, clenching her teeth like she was chewing up whatever words were left over in her mouth.
Dad watched me in the rearview again, his eyes wanting to tell me something I don’t think he knew how to say with his voice. That he was trying. That maybe part of him understood part of me. That he was on my side. Sometimes.
He looked forward again, rolled his head from side to side, and then readjusted his grip on the steering wheel, accelerating to just above the speed limit. I put my headphones back on and closed my eyes.
I didn’t even know graffiti existed in Carson, North Carolina. I saw it by accident yesterday morning when I was at the gas station filling my eternally deflating bike tires with free air. I usually rode there in front of the store, so I hadn’t seen the back of the building until then.
A car pulled up to one of the gas pumps, music blaring. When I looked, I saw that it was all my friends, piled into Hayden’s mom’s old-ass Ford Escort, laughing and shouting with the windows rolled down. They were going to the beach, to the carnival we went to every summer.
They had invited me. They always invited me; they were good friends that way. I said I was sick. I wasn’t sick, though. That’s why I ducked behind the building with my bike, heart racing, waiting there until they left. And when I looked up, there it was: one of Mallory’s photographs, except in real life.
I loved my sister. Even when I didn’t understand her, even when I hated her, I still loved her. Which I guess is the reason I woke up early today to be here, staring at the graffiti on the back wall of the only gas station in town.
I returned this morning with Mallory’s camera hanging around my neck. There was this one sharp thread in the strap that poked into my skin, and I wondered if it had bothered her the way it bothered me.
Part of me also wondered if Mallory had spray-painted the wall herself and then taken a picture of it—that seemed like the kind of thing she might do. But in person, I could see that the letters were worn, faded from years of grime and weather. I brought the camera up to my face and squinted through the viewfinder.
My fingers fit into the smooth places that her fingers had worn into the body of the camera over the years. I took a step back, and then sidestepped to the right, back again, and a little to the left. And there it was. The picture my sister had once taken, framed exactly how she’d framed it. I looked down at my feet and adjusted my toes so they were pointing ever so slightly inward, the way she always used to stand. I was in the exact spot she was in when she took this picture.
I waited to feel something.
I don’t ever take pictures myself—that was Mallory’s thing. And I am nothing like Mallory. There wasn’t even film in the camera, but I pressed the shutter release so that it made that sound—that clap-click-snap sound that always seemed to accompany Mallory wherever she went.
Mallory had had a way of seeing things that no one else saw. But after our parents divorced four years ago, when she was in ninth grade and I was in eighth, she became serious about photography. We were only eighteen months apart, but it may as well have been eighteen years, for all we had in common. She had plans to become a famous photographer, vowed to travel the world after she graduated from high school. She wanted to work for National Geographic and see her photographs in art galleries and stuff like that. She was going to do it too; she had a fancy internship all lined up in Washington, DC, with some up-and-coming magazine that was going to pay to send her overseas on assignment.
People in Carson just don’t do stuff like that.
Most of the time I thought she was snobby and pretentious. This town, her life here, our parents, me . . . nothing was good enough for her. Even though she already had everything— grades, talent, friends, the adoration of our parents and teachers and classmates, beauty, brains, magic—still, she always wanted more.
I never understood it. Never understood her.
Which I guess is why I’m trying now.
I gazed at the words melting in hasty cursive script, studied the handwriting of the vandal, their capital letters mixed in with lowercase, the messy lines stacked like blocks one on top of the other. Not anything like Mallory’s scribble hand- writing. Besides, she would’ve taken up the whole damn wall if it was her.
About ‘Something Like Gravity’
Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.
A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.
But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.
The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.
But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?