Guide/Reviews Database
OLDER FICTION
Grimes, Shaunta

Center of Gravity

(2) YA It's 1985, and seventh grader Tessa is still dealing with her grief over her mother's recent death when her father makes a bombshell set of announcements: he's getting married to Lila, the girlfriend he has just introduced her to; Lila is several months pregnant; and they're all moving from Colorado to California. While Tessa worries about all the usual aspects of moving and stepfamilies, she also must deal with her grief-related compulsion to collect milk cartons, with their (then-ubiquitous) photos of missing children, which has made her the object of teasing. In Los Angeles, Tessa finds camaraderie with a group of neighborhood boys who appreciate her foosball skills. They enter a foosball tournament with the goal of using the prize money to help two of the boys escape their abusive mother, but as complications arise, Tessa learns to trust her own judgment, with her friends and at home. The first-person narration provides readers with an intimate view of Tessa's personality and how her compulsive rituals interfere with her life. The book's exploration of friendship is authentic (some of the boys are more accepting of Tessa than others), as is the portrayal of the fine line between tween independence and the need for sympathetic adults. The book's adult characters are not quite as rounded, with Tessa's father and Lila fluctuating between empathy and self-absorption, but they remain on the periphery, as the book stays focused on the inner lives of Tessa and her friends.

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