Thursday, September 25, 2014

How We Deal With Gravity by Ginger Scott

* * * * 1/2

When her son Max was diagnosed with autism, Avery Abbot’s life changed forever. Her husband left, and her own dreams became a distant fantasy—always second to fighting never-ending battles to make sure Max was given opportunity, love and respect. Finding someone to fight along her side wasn’t even on her list, and she’d come to terms with the fact that she could never be her own priority again.

But a familiar face walking into her life in the form of 25-year-old Mason Street had Avery’s heart waging a war within. Mason was a failure. When he left his hometown five years ago, he was never coming back—it was only a matter of time before his records hit the billboard charts. Women, booze and rock-n-roll—that was it for him. But it seemed fate had a different plan in mind, and with a dropped record contract, little money and nowhere to go, Mason turned to the only family that ever made him feel home—the Abbots.

Avery loved Mason silently for years—until he broke her heart…completely. But time and life have a funny way of changing people, and sometimes second chances are there for a reason. Could this one save them both?

A while ago, I bypassed this title because it just didn’t seem up my alley. Recently after being thoroughly charmed by This Is Falling I decided to give this a go and what I discovered is another gem from Ginger Scott.

The tone is absolutely heavier than some books I’ve read of late. The first chapter opens with Abby at a grocery store trying her best to console her son Max as he’s having a public meltdown. Those few pages capture the very real hardship of being the parent of an autistic child. And it’s not just learning how to work with their autistic child, it’s also having to endure the judgmental attitudes of people who couldn’t bother to understand that it's not a simple behavioural issue. I was shocked by some of the things Abby describes.

Abby’s whole world is her son. Everything she does and works towards is to make a better future for him. She sacrifices a lot to do that and relies heavily on her father and her best friend for support. Both of them give willingly and it’s comforting that they both adore and love Abby and Max so much. Simply put, they're awesome and Abby is truly blessed to call them family. Mason comes back to town to recover from his band’s disaster of a tour. He expects to just lay low and reevaluate things but he’s thrown when he runs into Abby. They have a history, one of being friends only but seeing her now, Mason would like more than that.

Initially, Mason is a bit of a jerk but something about Abby causes him to refocus his priorities. Hearing of her divorce and what her life is like now, and seeing how special Max is, he finds himself delicately infiltrating their lives. Abby in the meantime is skeptical. The Mason she remembers was a self-centered knucklehead and she has no room for someone like that in her life. She and Max are a package deal and anyone who wants in has to accept that Max and his needs will always come first. Is Mason up to the task? And is Abby willing to find out? 

As I read along, I found myself internalizing a lot of things. Parenting is hard. I’m the mother of three kids and I wonder some days how I manage in between dealing with three very distinct personalities, homework, shuffling them off to their various activities and social events, managing a household and having a job too. Having a child with special needs requires ultimate strength. Getting a glimpse into this life that requires strict order, routine and a bottomless well of patience and humility opened my eyes to the daily challenges that special needs children and their families face.

This is what Mason is exposed to and for the first time in his life, he’s thinking beyond himself. He comes a long way from the beginning of the book to become someone important to Abby and Max. When another career opportunity presents itself, he has to weigh the pros and cons of accepting it. This doesn’t mean that mistakes don’t happen. Screw ups are part of being human and Abby, who knows she doesn’t have it all figured out, is acutely aware of that.

How We Deal With Gravity is revealing and hopeful. Reading is the best kind of magic where you’re transported into a different world. In this case, it’s the world that we live in. But we get to see it through a new lens thanks to Ginger Scott's beautifully crafted and sensitive story.

~ Bel

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