In 'The Gravity-Assist Technique', Ella and Kevin each tell the story of their past, and map the small decisions and unintended consequences that led from then to now. It is a story about friends, family, loss, love, trust, and how our individual choices affect each other's lives.
*May Contain Spoilers*
As I understood it, The Gravity-Assist Technique is a complex calculation that uses gravity of other planets to project a satellite into a specific direction. That idea is adapted by Dalene Flannigan and transposed onto the characters in her novel named after the phenomenon. After her husband dies, Ella is lost. Slowly over the course of three years, she comes back to herself. But, tragedy is random and it can strike more than once in different forms.
Ella and Kevin take turns playing narrator in The Gravity-Assist Technique. Ella is a 43 year-old woman who suffered the tragic loss of her husband to a car accident. Her daughter is off to college and she suddenly finds herself alone. The loss that Ella has already experienced will immediately draw readers to her side. They'll understand and empathize with her plight. Ella is a strong woman who fights to keep the darkness at bay. She's hopeful for the future, insistent on becoming a whole person again.
Kevin is the cousin and best friend of Ella's deceased husband, Aaron, and he has always been in love with her. After Aaron's death, Kevin focuses on providing Ella with all the help she could possibly need. Lost in his focus to take care of Ella, Kevin moves away from his wife. Though readers will understand the necessary business after a death, they will also understand the hurt and abandonment that his wife, Beth, is feeling. Kevin is a good man. He doesn't lie. He doesn't cheat. Though readers won't truly begin to connect to him until they know the details of his love and support for Ella and see that without a little 'gravity-assist' he would forever stay dedicated to his wife.
Blame is a fickle concept and Dalene Flannigan makes it tough on readers to cast it. Which, of course, makes for a very interesting story. One afternoon is all it takes to turn a life upside down. When Ella takes her daughter's dog for a walk and spots Kevin's wife and a strange man kissing on the back patio of a beautiful house near her own, she is mortified. She begins to think that Beth simply had a slip, made a mistake and stumbled but would find her way back to Kevin. When Beth reveals that she is pregnant, Ella begins to doubt everything that Beth says. What if it isn't Kevin's child? Then a lightning bolt strikes and Ella realizes that she's in love with Kevin. She can't say anything, of course she can't. But are her hands truly tied? Flannigan takes readers on a travel from loss to love, using The Gravity-Assist Technique to propel characters toward their fated destination.
Rating: 4/5 Cups