When a biracial single father discovers he can control gravity, he must decide how far he’ll go to protect his family in this novel.
When we first meet Isaac Williams, he’s a young boy, running and suddenly leaving the Earth behind for a moment—until he comes crashing down. Later—after his departure from Mississippi, the birth of his daughter, Tallah, and the death of his wife—Isaac lives a very down-to-earth life in the San Francisco/Oakland area, making a living picking up laundry. But when a police officer hassles Isaac, the cop’s SUV mysteriously gets crushed; though Isaac isn’t sure how, he realizes that he destroyed the vehicle—and he enjoys the feeling of not being the helpless one finally. This could be the origin of a superhero, and Isaac learns to control his power—though he uses it to make his life easier. (Which happens a fair amount of time in superhero origin stories.) For instance, he lightens his load while carrying it but makes it heavier when weighing it for payment. But when Tallah’s school troubles escalate, Isaac finds himself using his abilities to protect her from the police, which sets the two on the run and soon pits Isaac against the authorities in a search for his daughter. Miller (The Two Levels, 2015, etc.) writes an engaging superhero adventure tale revolving around the serious issue of police officers and race. (As Isaac notes to one cop, the police probably wouldn’t have been called if a white student had been disruptive.) Isaac is an easy character to sympathize with as a protective father who deals with a series of setbacks. Yet Miller makes certain not to draw him in too perfect terms: some of the more psychologically interesting moments revolve around Isaac’s motivations—is he protecting Tallah or just lashing out at others? There are also some nice turns of phrase—a tossed piece of concrete hangs in the air “like a poor man’s moon.” The ending suffers some loss of momentum as Miller sets up the sequel.
An engaging superhero story with deep themes.