Cover image for Gravity : a novel
Gravity : a novel


1st ed.
Physical Description:
394 pages ; 22 cm.
When Gravity Delgado walks into Cops 'n Kids, a no-frills Brooklyn boxing gym, and starts working with the legendary Coach Thomas, she joins a true melting pot of fighters. There's the flirtatious Lefty (a southpaw), hard-to-beat D-Minus ("They call me D-Minus 'cause I'm all you need"), artistic Kimani "Monster" Browne, and a host of others. At the gym, Gravity finds the unexpected: the father she's never had in her coach, not one but two romantic prospects, and, most importantly, a love and skill for boxing. If she can stay focused, despite her troubled home life, she might just have a shot at the Olympics.


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When Gravity Delgado walks into Cops 'n Kids, a no-frills Brooklyn boxing gym, and starts working with the legendary Coach Thomas, she joins a true melting pot of fighters. There's the flirtatious Lefty (a southpaw), hard-to-beat D-Minus ("They call me D-Minus 'cause I'm all you need"), artistic Kimani "Monster" Browne, and a host of others. At the gym, Gravity finds the unexpected- the father she's never had in her coach, not one but two romantic prospects, and, most importantly, a love and skill for boxing. If she can stay focused, despite her troubled home life, she might just have a shot at the Olympics.

With each blow, each jab, and each punch, Sarah Deming draws her readers into the gritty and inspiring world of Gravity Delgado, a Jewish Dominican teenager growing up in Brooklyn and aspiring for greatness.

Author Notes

Sarah Deming assisted on the New York Times bestselling sports memoir Eat & Run and wrote for CNBC's 2012 Olympics coverage. She is an HBO Boxing insider, as well as a senior boxing correspondent for Stiff Jab. Her essays have appeared in the Threepenny Review, the Guardian, Penthouse Forum, the Washington Post, HuffPost,, and the Morning News, and have been noted in Best American Essays and Best American Sportswriting. She's been awarded a Pushcart Prize and a MacDowell Fellowship. Before becoming a writer, Sarah was a chef, a yoga teacher, and a Golden Gloves boxing champion. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Ethan Iverson, and works with young boxers at Atlas Cops and Kids. Learn more about Sarah at or on Twitter at @sarahdeming.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Boxer and journalist--turned--trainer Deming (Iris, Messenger) pens a gritty, uplifting story about Gravity Delgado, "half Dominican and half Jewish," who begins boxing at age 12 after her self-absorbed mother stops paying her karate fees. It's free to train at Cops 'n Kids gym in Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood, and under the guidance of demanding Coach Thomas, who uses a wheelchair, Gravity trains to fight alongside boxers of myriad backgrounds and ethnicities. By age 16, she has won a pair of Golden Gloves and is a top contender for the 2016 Summer Olympics, while at home, her mother's drinking has escalated, creating concerns about her little brother's care. Gravity finds solace in the shema she prays before every fight and the unconditional support she receives from her aunt and cousin. At the gym, Gravity develops feelings for another boxer and is preparing to fight increasingly challenging opponents in Rio. Not only does Deming take readers into the riveting heart of amateur boxing, she does so through the eyes of a protagonist who is tough and vulnerable, relatable and intriguing. Via a plainspoken narrative interspersed with reporting on the Olympic arc, Cops 'n Kids, the boxers who train there, and Gravity's family--related and chosen--become substantive characters themselves. The plot moves along at just the right pace to give readers a thrilling firsthand look inside a boxing ring, including psychological elements of the sport, while offering the moving, layered tale of a dedicated, dazzling young woman. Ages 14--up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Nov.)

Booklist Review

Sixteen-year-old Gravity Delgado is making her mark on the world of amateur women's boxing, with a Golden Gloves victory under her belt and undefeated status in the ring. Finding the Cops n Kids boxing gym in Brooklyn was her salvation, quickly changing from a place where she could simply channel her anger at her drunk, abusive mom to Gravity's ticket to a better life with her kid brother, Ty. Now the Olympic trials for the 2016 games in Rio are approaching and Gravity is training hard to knock out any competition among her fellow Lightweights and secure a spot on the U.S. team. Deming's own background as a boxer, coach, and sports journalist comes through in vivid writing that slings sweat and pulls no punches. Fights and sparring matches are energetically relayed and exciting to follow, even for those unfamiliar with the sport. She also provides narrative variation by inserting accounts of fights and boxing news from a respected boxing blog that Gravity follows. Though fiercely passionate about boxing, Gravity's love for Ty is unrivaled, and their relationship is tenderly depicted. She also has her first bouts with sex and dating, which are realistically complicated and messy but always secondary to her Olympic dreams. Readers will want ringside seats for this gritty debut title from Christopher Myer's new Make Me a World imprint.--Julia Smith Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Gravity Delgado, a scrappy half-Dominican, half-Jewish girl, dreams of becoming a champion. She's been training with her gruff but lovable coach at Brooklyn's Cops 'n Kids with other boxers, many of whom are preparing to compete in the U.S. trials for the Rio Olympics. Gravity's proud of her undefeated record and hopes to make a booming entrance onto the Olympic scene, but her focus is constantly at risk of being pulled in different directions--she cares for her eight-year-old brother, clashes with her alcoholic, abusive mother, falls hard for her slick-talking teammate (but has unacknowledged feelings for another), battles sleep through classes at her alternative high school, tiptoes through friend drama with another teammate, and has a bitter fight with Coach, who is her primary father figure. Deming, a New York Golden Gloves champion and boxing journalist, captures the training and fight scenes with perfection. Sexism, feminism, and LGBTQ+ topics are peppered throughout (how could they not be in a book about female boxing?) and Deming's light touch of all the issues in Gravity's orbit allows readers to simultaneously focus on her boxing and understand how hard she is working to overcome the obstacles in her path. Supported by realistic dialogue and a fully developed cast of secondary characters, Gravity is an honest, one-in-a-million main character with a heart of gold who readers will be rooting for from page one. VERDICT Deming pulls no punches in this flawless debut. A recommended first purchase.--Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI

Kirkus Review

A 16-year-old boxer dreams of winning Olympic gold.Gravity Delgado (half Dominican and half Jewish) feels like she has been fighting and breaking things her whole life. However, since joining PLASMAFuel Cops 'n Kids boxing gym in Brooklyn four years ago, she has channeled her fighting spirit toward a single goal: boxing in the 2016 Summer Olympics. As Gravity arduously trains for Rio, she grapples with different parts of her identity. On the one hand, her absent father's Dominican family provides comfort and a safe haven from the abuse and neglect her drunk mother inflicts on Gravity and her younger brother, Tyler. On the other, praying a shema before every fight tethers her to her mother's faith. A diverse set of characters populates the boxing world Gravity inhabits, including a Ukrainian brother and sister, wheelchair user Coach Thomas, Haitian American fellow boxer D-Minus, and Kimani, a kind, large, dark-skinned man who is painfully aware of the racism in people's fearful responses to him. Deming's (contributor: Viticulture Vinification, 2013, etc.) own amateur boxing career and knowledge as a boxing correspondent are clearly evident in her masterful descriptions of the grueling training process and intense bouts. Readers will immediately stand in Gravity's corner as she battles distractions and fights against the odds in pursuit of her dreams.A riveting pugilistic must-read. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



Sweat sloshed in the folds of Gravity's plastic suit as she jogged past the Cyclone roller coaster. She ran the Coney Island boardwalk six mornings a week at five-­thirty. It was the most peaceful part of her day. Nobody was out except a few other joggers, a couple of homeless people, and the seagulls. She was terribly hungry this morning, and her scalp ached from the tight cornrows Melsy had put in last night. To distract herself, she conjured the faces of the women she would fight at Trials: decorated national champions like Paloma Gonzales, strong women twice her age like Aaliyah Williams. But first, Svetlana. Gravity would show her old friend what a mistake it was to challenge her. She turned around at the Wonder Wheel and lengthened her stride, her breath making steam in the cold February air. Her body felt strong and lean. She had weighed 133.6 that morning, naked, after taking a hot shower and pooping. Subtracting the 0.4-­pound inaccuracy of Mom's scale, and the fact that, between the plastic suit and the Albolene she had smeared on to open her pores, she would sweat off at least a pound and a half on the jog, this meant she could have a little water and a PowerBar for breakfast, a salad without dressing for lunch, and a chicken breast for dinner. If all went well, she would make 132 easy in Spokane without having to spit or jump rope. Rio. Rio. Rio Olympian. She chanted the words in her mind as her sneakers hit the weathered wood and the tips of her braids slapped her shoulders. The sleeping amusement park gave way to rows of shuttered hot dog stands and beach bars. She pulled her boxing glove keychain out of her sports bra and sprinted down the side street that led to their apartment complex, making a 6:30 mile going home. Tyler was in one of his moods, and she didn't want him to be late for school again. When she opened the door, he jumped up from the couch, the video game controller still in his hand, and picked up the nagging where he had left off. "Why did you take so long, Gra Gra? I'm hungry! I was waiting and waiting." His eyes reflected the television screen on which he was playing his favorite video game, Hell Slayer 3. He had been up all night playing and had dark circles under his eyes. Gravity felt her temper rise. "Ty Ty, I've told you a million times. I have to run in order to be an Olympian. You're a big boy now. You could have made yourself a bowl of cereal." "There's no milk!" he yelled. "There is! I checked the fridge last night." "Is not!" Gravity stalked into the kitchen. There were three roaches crawling over the counter, and she got one with her left hand and one with her right but missed the third. She washed her hands, threw open the refrigerator door, and pulled out the carton of milk to show her brother, but she could tell from the weight of it that it was completely empty. Fucking Mom! Gravity smashed the milk carton down on the counter. One of the juice glasses in the dish drainer toppled over and broke. Tyler began to cry. Who does that? Who takes a completely empty carton of milk and puts it back in the refrigerator to deceive her children? If Mom had thrown it out or left it on the counter, Gravity could have bought a new one on the run home. She closed her eyes and began to count backward from one hundred. The heat slowly abated. When she got to eighty, she opened them. Tyler had followed her into the kitchen and was staring at her. His pudgy face was covered with tears and snot. "Are you okay, Gra Gra?" he asked. "Yeah. Sorry." "You broke a glass." "I break everything." He stuck out his lower lip. "There's no milk." "I know." His nostrils began to tremble, and another tear rolled down his wet cheek and fell on his Spider-­Man pajamas. "I hate when you run. You take so long I think you aren't coming back." Gravity's anger evaporated and guilt flooded her. How could she get mad at Tyler? It wasn't his fault everything was so fucked up. "Come here, baby," she said. He shuffled over and hugged her around the waist. Her plastic suit rustled and a little river of sweat dripped down her legs. She kissed the top of his head, wrinkling her nose at the smell. She scratched away a fleck of dandruff from his scalp. "When's the last time you took a bath?" she asked. "Don't 'member." She glanced at the clock. "Well, take one tonight. We're going to eat cereal with water today, okay? It's yummy like that. I don't have time to go to the store." Or much money, either. Mr. Rizzo would probably give her some pocket money for Spokane when she saw him at the gym, but it wasn't like Mom would have thought to leave them cash. And she hoarded that EBT card like it earned interest. Sometimes Gravity wanted to shake her mother and ask if she thought Gravity and Tyler were plants or something that grew off water and sun. There had been a time when their mother had cooked dinner every night. Steak with broccoli. Brisket with barbecue sauce. Best of all, her homemade challah bread, which was so buttery and moist it tasted like cake. Gravity salivated, remembering its sweet smell. But that was a long time ago. She watched her little brother think over the cereal-­and-­water proposition. Stubbornness ran in the family; she had learned through trial and error that she couldn't make Tyler do anything he didn't want to do. "Okay," he said at last. She shook some frosted cornflakes into a bowl for him, then poured a little cold tap water into the carton of milk and shook it up before pouring it on. She put the bowl on the table, but Tyler carried it back to the couch, where he un-­paused his game and kept playing while he ate. She let him. Tyler could never sleep when Mom was out all night, and that game was the only thing that kept him from worrying. Excerpted from Gravity by Sarah Deming All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.