Title: Gravity Journal
Author: Gail Sidonie Sobat
Publisher: Great Plains Teen Fiction
Release Date: April 1, 2008
Life is very grave for Anise. Hospitalized for anorexia, she wonders about the point of it all. Her frigid mother and ineffectual father seem oblivious to her struggle. Her beloved brother is too busy screwing up his own life to take note of hers. Living on the loony ward seems not to be making any difference at all, and Anise feels like a prisoner. Her only free choice is to turn to her journal–the place where she can make scathing observations about her family, other people, the world; the place where she can dream, and where she can decide whether to live or die
So it looks like I found what I’m more in the mood for lately – realistic YA novels dealing with mental health issues. I picked this up from my library after breezing through Letting Ana Go and found this was similar only in topic.
I was happy to see that this was not only a Canadian Author (which my library neglected to indicate by fancy sticker) and took place in Alberta (not my province but still). This author did a mix of third person writing and journal entries. There was a clearly defined difference in writing style – not just indicated by the italics. The journal entries were typically poetry that Anise had written or lists on who she would better cope with her illness and personal life.
Unlike Letting Ana Go, Gravity Journal takes place in a hospital where Anise is attending a program for anorexia. Here we get to experience Anise’s difficulty in dealing with her anorexia, getting use to school, feelings, her boyfriend, and her family. I love that Anise doesn’t use mom or dad or even her parents first name – no she uses the names she feels best describes them “Witless” and “Loathed”. I found this to be very creative.
We don’t have much interaction with other characters. We have some exposure to her brother, Marcel, very brief moments with her parents, and some time with her new boyfriend from hospital, Boyd. With the little bit of interaction you have with the people it’s hard to decide whether or not you truly like the person or not. All you have to go on is the feelings that Anise has towards them. Other patients are brought in and out of the picture – as it would happen in Anise’s experience with them at the hospital. Other characters, like the doctor, psychiatrist, the teachers, and the nurse, are interesting but not used much. We see how much she loves or hates the person and that’s it. The only two adults that seem to help Anise through her problems/illness are the psychiatrist and one of the nurses. She trusts them and you can tell from their actions that they care about her.
Anise, and this book, are relateable but only from arms length. At no point did I feel an emotional attachment to her, nor did I get any feels from this book. However, I don’t think every book needs to give me a million feels in order for me to love the book – or to learn from it. I haven’t read a book yet that shows the experience of a person trying to heal themselves for a mental illness – especially in a hospital setting. I felt like Sobat provided an interesting depiction on what it would be like to have to go through this experience. Would a little more emotion be nice – well yes – but not fully necessary. I would have liked to know the time line. I know that she was there for at least 2 school semesters – so likely 8 months, but I don’t know when she experienced what.
Overall, the book was a good read and worth borrowing at the very least if you’re interested in the topic.
Rating: 3.5/5 – Good Book
Content: talk of teenage sexual behavior, talk of homosexual behavior, underage use of drugs, clean language, body image issues, cutting, suicide talk, death
Source: Library Copy