Fundamental Christianity gets all the media attention regarding social issues in our country. Set in Toronto in the late 1980s, Leanne Lieberman’s Gravity brings to the fore the question of Judaism’s view of homosexuality–as well as the gay individual’s view of her Judaism. In Gravity, an orthodox Jewish teenager, Ellie, is caught between her mother’s rigid orthodoxy, her sister’s waning faith, and her father’s religious mediocrity.
When Ellie’s parents go to Israel for part of the summer, she gets to spend the summer at her somewhat “unorthodox” grandparents’ cottage at the lake. It is at the cottage that she is drawn to another girl, with stirrings she has never felt and feelings she really is ill-equipped to understand and integrate into her orthodox Jewish life.
Is she an “abomination?” Can she change, as she is told–in spite of failed attempts to do just that? Are God and religion just ideas “made up” by stupid men who insist women can’t love other women, like her sister says? She wavers between her own adherence to her faith and her mother’s orthodoxy and the contradictions presented by her sister’s rebellion and her grandparents less conservative lifestyle.
Having grown up in a Jewish home, in a Jewish community, as what I like to affectionately call a Christmas and Easter Jew (i.e. Jews who only observe the High Holidays, like Christians who only go to church on Christmas and Easter), Ellie’s dilemma has a familiar ring to it.
What a great book for young people of any faith or denomination—in essence, all orthodoxy is the same when it comes to social deviation (or what many consider deviance). And what a potential life saver for young (and not so young) people just coming out and trying to figure out how to remain faithful—to their religion(s) and to themselves.
by Leanne Lieberman
Orca Book Publishers / $12.95
Paperback, 240 pp.