By the Forces of Gravity
Rebecca Fish Ewan, 397 pgs, Books by Hippocampus, books.hippocampusmagazine.com, $24
Rebecca Fish Ewan’s poignant graphic memoir will transport you to a time of bell-bottom jeans and platform shoes. By the Forces of Gravity recounts a devastating tragedy in Ewan’s childhood through cartoons and free verse. Set in Berkeley, CA, in the ’70s, the book starts with 12-year-old Ewan on a road trip where she first meets her “soul friend” Luna. After tripping on acid, the pair forge a deep connection (“I feel like we become so close / Our souls connect / I wish we had a song” and become inseparable. Thus, their story begins.
Perhaps the most jarring aspect of this memoir is the fact that as a 12-year-old, Ewan was already experimenting with drugs, dropping out of school, dating much older boys and living away from home. At one point she moves into a kids’ commune with the full support of her father. But despite her extraordinary circumstances, many can relate to having that one special friend you’d do anything for, the one who has a big influence on your life.
Ewan’s writing style is touching, humorous and full of teen angst. The simplistic drawings are charming and are paired perfectly with the verses. I actually would have preferred more art and fewer words. I had a hard time engaging with the story up until about halfway through. I felt like the book took a while to get to the point. A lot of verses were repetitive, and in 397 pages, the story could have been shorter.
In the end, I was completely taken in by the friendship. “We are soul friends / That’s a forever thing.” By the Forces of Gravity is a beautiful love letter to a dear, dear friend.