Gravity “Doomsday” Delgado is a true badass. She joined PLASMAFuel Cops ’n Kids boxing gym when she was 12 years old and trained every single day without fail. Now 16, she’s an accomplished fighter with a real chance at making the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Gravity is her story, the brainchild of Sarah Deming, herself a New York Golden Gloves champion, Pushcart Prize-winner and current boxing coach.
Gravity’s life is a lot for an ordinary teenager to handle, let alone one who’s trying to win Olympic gold. Her mom is a cruel and neglectful alcoholic; her father left when she was just 8 years old. Fortunately, her Aunty Rosa and cousin Melsy are kind and supportive, and her little brother Ty is sweet when he’s not being annoying. Still, Gravity’s life isn’t so different from the other kids she trains with, fighters with names like D-Minus, Monster, Svetlana and Lefty — an eclectic group, all with the desire to be champions. Sleazy coaches, corrupt referees, poverty-induced stress and workday temptations all act as roadblocks to success, but Gravity persists in a story that is by turns suspenseful, funny and thrilling.
Deming skillfully conveys necessary information about how the boxing-competition circuit works, with an assist from interspersed articles by Carmen Cruz, a women’s boxing expert who follows the team from gym to arena, posting dispatches and building narrative tension along the way. Gravity struggles with questions of identity, both with regard to her Dominican Jewish heritage and her efforts to discern what’s important and what’s worth letting go of—inside and outside the ring.
Gravity is an entertaining and engrossing novel, with lots of boxing-centric detail (daily training, making weight, the sound of a punch, the feeling of victory) and well-timed doses of drama. There’s also occasional romantic fun and deep yet beautiful sorrow, too. Gravity’s coming-of-age tale will resonate with readers of all stripes, thanks to its emotional underpinnings and a heroine who embodies the thrill—and value—of a good fight.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our interview with Gravity author Sarah Deming.