I was recently on a panel for the New England Library Association entitled Alterna-Lit for Teens. I'll probably be writing reviews of some of the books I read for my portion (coming out books) at some point when I have the energy, but in the meantime I wanted to write about Gravity, by Leanne Lieberman, which was actually presented by one of my colleagues.
Gravity is set in the 80s in Toronto and revolves around a family of Orthodox Jews. Although the narrative is from the perspective of the younger daughter, Ellisheva Gold, who falls in love with a girl she meets while on vacation, the story is really about the entire family and their struggle with faith. Ellie's mother works to find ways to express her faith despite the restrictive confines of orthodoxy, Ellie's sister Neshama is determined to leave and never look back as soon as she finishes high school, and Ellie's father believes that if the Jews had been more observant, the Holocaust would never have happened. Against this background, Ellie fights doggedly against her attraction to Lindsay and also her desire to know more about the world and science than her religion finds strictly acceptable. When she accepts that she does prefer girls over boys, she must come to terms with what that means for her belief in God. The story resonates at the end with the balance she finds between her faith and her sexuality.
Random Thoughts: I don't love the cover photo--I think the model's skirt is much too short. I did like that the book was set in the 80s, although that didn't have too much to do with the movement of the plot. I especially liked the tension between Ellie and Lindsay--they don't have much in common, and they may not actually like each other much, but they nevertheless find themselves drawn together.
The author's website.