Gravity ~ Tal Bauer
Let me start this review by telling you about how excited I was to read this book. This book is about a French Canadian hockey player from a small town in Quebec. I’m also French Canadian and from a small town in Quebec and I’m a massive hockey fan. So safe to say that my expectations and excitement for this book were through the roof. It’s not often that I get to read books with characters that are from the same place as I am, and there is always something super fun about being able to relate to a character due to the language that they speak (French in this case) and due to their upbringing and I always love reading about hockey. Which I why I was waiting with bathed breaths the moment that I could put my hands on this book, I just wanted to read this story, so badly.
This book is friends to lovers and bi awakening, which are some of my favourite tropes, so that really helped sell the book for me, too.
Hunter has looked up to Bryce as a hockey player for years. Bryce plays hockey for the Montréal Étoiles. They meet during a special hockey event and they start hanging out with each other and then they slowly fall in love.
I really liked the relationship progression in this book. I loved how they meet and then they hung up with each other a lot and I just loved reading about all of their interactions and them spending time together. That was just so much fun to read about for me and I really enjoyed it. I liked seeing them spend time together because I got to see why they liked each other and why they fell for each other later on. All of their interactions were just so sweet and they had super great chemistry, which I just loved.
Also, I always love a book where they start out as friends and then get to know each other before they start dating and I really enjoyed seeing them hang out in this one. I just liked seeing them do all the things together. It was just so fun to read about. And it made me much more impactful when they did start dating.
Their romance was just so cute. I just kept swooning while I was reading this book because the romance was one of the cutest ones I have read in a while. I just absolutely adored their relationship so much. It was just so full of super sweet moments where they showed how much they care about each other and I loved that, so so much. They were always there for each other and it was just so lovely to see.
I really enjoyed the hockey descriptions in this book. I liked how the teammates were nice and were a found family for the main characters, that was super fun to read about. But I also really loved all of the little details about hockey that the author incorporated in the book. There were so many little specific details about the history of the sport (in fact, the Montreal team in this book had the exact same history as the actual Montreal team. Like even their moto in the team’s locker room is the same as the one in the actual Montreal team locker room. Which I really liked, I thought it was a fun detail) that I just really enjoyed reading about. Also, I loved reading about them playing hockey, that was just so much fun to me. It almost was a substitute to watching a hockey game since the games in this book were explained in a lot of detail, so I thought it was super fun to read about.
I haven’t read as many Tal Bauer books as I wish I had but I have always enjoyed his writing style in the ones I have read. I always love really flowery and expressive writing and he really nails this style of writing. It’s just so much fun to read about and really gives character and personality to his stories. This book was super engaging and fun to read to me because I just loved the author’s writing style.
Now we’re about to go into the section in my review where I analyze how the Quebec rep is done. Since I have lived in Quebec my entire life, I have a lot of opinions on the matter.
First I just want to point out how much French there was in this book. The characters always spoke random words in French in the middle of their sentences in English. And that just felt a little out of place to me. I’m also bilingual and I never just randomly started swearing in French while I was talking to someone in English. Like sometimes I use French words if I subconsciously don’t realize it, but I don’t willingly just incorporate them in the middle of my sentences in English. So good on the characters for speaking this way, but it isn’t an experience I could really relate to as someone who’s also bilingual.
I do have a complaint about this book. And it seemed insignificant at first but the more I read the book, the more I just didn’t really appreciate it. I didn’t really enjoy the use of French in this book. And there is a lot of it, the characters actually speak in French many times during the book. First of all, a lot of the sentences didn’t really read like how someone would say them in French, but a direct translation of the English sentences. And the French language doesn’t build sentences as the English language does so it didn’t always work and made for some really hard-to-read sentences, and I say this as someone who speaks the language. But, that isn’t my biggest thing. It was meant to be all about the Quebec language and using expressions specifically to Quebec, but a lot of the time, the expressions used to say things in France were used instead of the ones specific to Quebec. To explain this more, you know how there are so many expressions in British English that are super different from English used in the USA and how people probably wouldn’t understand them if they didn’t know that specific dialect, it’s the same thing for French used in Quebec and the one used in France. If you go speaking the expressions used in France in Quebec, people would look at you really strangely and not be able to understand anything that you’re saying. More so, if I can compare my experience of reading this book to something else, the French in this book felt as out of place as if I was reading a book about a cowboy from Texas and suddenly he started calling everyone he ever encounters a cunt, like they do in Australia. This is how out of place the French used in this book felt to me.
This is why the use of French bothered me in this book because most of it was expressions that just aren’t used in Quebec. To try and make it simpler, in France they use full words to build sentences and they speak super proper French, but in Quebec, when speaking, we tend to use contractions for everything, put some English words in the middle of sentences in French, change the pronunciation and spelling of a lot of words, have our own expressions to say things, etc. And every sentence in this book was all prime and proper French and the expressions they use in France, which is why it didn’t work for me because it just isn’t accurate to how someone from Quebec casually speaks in their day-to-day life. (This book did nail the use of “Tabernak” and “Criss” (which are both swear words and just mean fuck), as we do use those a lot, but unfornatuatly, that was the only part I loved when it comes to how French was used in this book). And I know that it’s a little thing but since I speak the language, it just kind of ruined my immersion in the book. I was just expecting it to be all about Quebec and the Quebec language since that's what the book is marketed as, so that's probably why. I just really wanted it to be all about Quebec French since that's what the book is marketed as and the language I know and speak every day of my life, so I just was a little sad about it.
Also, I just want to mention, that I, someone who lives in Quebec and speaks French every day of my life, had to google two of the expressions used in this book because they are super outdated sayings that used to be used in France a long time ago. Which was just a little sad to me since I was expecting to open this book and find sentences that I’m likely to use in my day-to-day life, but sadly it just wasn’t the case.
Also, an even smaller thing, but the blurb for this book has a sentence that says “swoony Quebec love songs” so I was really expecting to see some of them show up in the book and that's one of the reasons why I really wanted to read this book, because it isn’t often I see this kind of rep in books, and I got kind of bummed that none of them were mentioned by name. Céline Dion is from Quebec and has a lot of love songs, so I was at least expecting that name drop since that's super popular, but I would have taken anything really. I think I was just sad because 80% of the music I listen to is from artists from Quebec so I was really hyped to see some mentions for those songs in this book since the blurb mentioned it. There are a couple of songs and artists who are talked about in this book, but they all come from France …. So it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
Overall, this was a super sweet book and I really wish I could have enjoyed it. But it was just missing something to push this book over the edge for me.