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Against Gravity: A Novel Hardcover – March 6, 1996

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684800918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684800912
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,203,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a drowsy town in the Hudson Valley, Ferriss's (Philip's Girl) tale of Gwyn "Stick" Stickley's childhood unfolds in gripping fashion. Relating her story as a young adult, Stick marks the beginning of her sentience with the Challenger space shuttle crash and the death of teacher Christa McAuliffe. Throughout her narrative, Stick invokes a talisman-like verse that sums up for her both the beauty and the otherworldliness of that tragedy: "They slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." Later, trapped between the torpor of high-school hijinks and her estrangement from her overworked parents, Stick abets her friend JoAnn Harlett, the school "easy," who contrives to deliver an illegitimate baby without the knowledge of her fundamentalist parents. Again and again, Stick finds her memories flitting outward to probe the crevices of small-town secrets?from those of Gray, the shopowner accused of molesting his foster children, to those of her friends and family?and then bending back inward, toward the mysteries of God, death and the extraordinary nobility the Challenger disaster exemplifies for her. Ultimately, Stick finds her quandaries resolved through the quiet strength of ordinary people. Although sometimes affected in tone and awkward in plot, this strange story carries a kind of grace, making apparent the miracle of greatness in ordinary life.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A convoluted coming-of-age story with a gothic veneer. Gwyn Stickley, known as ``Stick,'' witnesses the explosion of the Challenger when she's on a high-school trip to Florida. Returning to her dreary unnamed hamlet in upstate New York, she might want to brood about the tragedy, but she's got plenty to brood about already in her own backyard: There's best friend JoAnn, for instance, secretly pregnant and still swilling beer; local storekeeper Gray, who, with his retarded son Benjy, has recently been charged with child-molesting; and Stick's own bickering parents, especially her beautiful, elusive mother Wanda, who seems to be harboring dark secrets of her own. When JoAnn's son is born in a shed in the woods, Stick assists at the birth, then spirits the baby to a mall where someone can find him and take him in. She can't stop thinking about the infant, but she takes up religion and tap-dancing, at least for a while, and her story gathers some pull when she heads for Manhattan to try for a career. All too soon, though, she's tapped out. She heads back upstate to confront a new onslaught of tragedies--including JoAnn's violent death, the discovery of a skeleton in the woods, and a gruesome accident that leaves her own father impaled on a spike fence. It's all a bit too much: Ferriss could have whittled her plot twists to half of what's here and made a better, more coherent story. By the time Mom finally reveals her dark secret, we're too numb to care a lot; and for someone with so much savvy, Stick never understands that she really does need to dance her way to freedom, finishing instead where she began, back in the hamlet. Stick is stuck. Overdone and overtold. Ferriss (The Gated River, 1986, etc.) should have listened to her own main character, a girl whose favorite pastime is parsing sentences to reveal their basic elements. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on April 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A very distinct book marked with the author's distinct writing style. Marveously put together; the words seem to flow so readily off the page and into your mind. This is a book that will leave you thinking. It takes you through the portion of a girl's life, ages 14 to 22, who lives in a small hamlet. Her life becomes extremely intricate and filled with complicated, deep secrets. Foreshadowing is used a lot, and some events merely mentioned on the first page aren't entirely explained until much later in the story. This girl's story, named Stick, takes you from the small quiet hamlet that is much more scandolous than it originally seems, to the streets of New York, and then back again. People become friends, become enemies ,and become lovers.I would highly reccomend this book.
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More About the Author

Born in St. Louis, Lucy Ferriss has lived on both coasts, in the middle, and abroad. She is the author of ten books, mostly fiction; her most recent novel is A SISTER TO HONOR (Berkley/Penguin 2015). Her novel THE LOST DAUGHTER (Berkley 2012) was a BOMC alternate selection and a national bestseller. Her memoir Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a Reluctant Debutante was called Best Book of the Year by the Riverfront Times; her novel Nerves of the Heart was a finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize competition; her collection Leaving the Neighborhood and Other Stories was the 2000 winner of the Mid-List First Series Award. Other short fiction and essays have appeared most recently in the New York Times, Missouri Review, Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Georgia Review, and have received recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Faulkner Society, the Fulbright Commission, and the George Bennett Fund, among others, She received her Ph.D. from Tufts University and currently lives with Don Moon in the Berkshires and in Connecticut, where she is Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College. She has two strong sons and abiding passions for music, politics, travel, tennis, and wilderness. She has a historical novel, The Woman Who Bought the Sky, on deck, and is working on a new novel set during the 1904 World's Fair. Visit Lucy at her website