What if the events of your life spun out of your control, and you were left having to face unthinkable choices? What if, to save a life, you had to do something that felt morally right, but legally untenable?
These are the choices before Solomon Richter, a state Supreme Court judge whose last case of his career is one that will call into question all that he believes to be true about the bonds of family and love.
The case is one with Nicole as the plaintiff, petitioning for the cord blood of her second cousin Julian: the last resort in the treatment of a disease that is taking her life, slowly but surely. The cord blood that was promised to her in writing by her first cousin Ari, Julian’s father, but then rescinded. The legal battle will test the ties that once bound these cousins and former best friends.
The narrative flows between the various characters, from Nicole to Judge Sol, and then to various others whose stories do not really seem connected to this main thread. But in the end, the loose ends tie up in a fashion as we see how each of the characters are faced with dilemmas and choices, and must decide what is important to them.
It was easy to empathize with Nicole, the beautiful protagonist whose life is slipping away. And Ari is the least sympathetic character one could hope to find: unattractive, brutish, arrogant…there is really nothing to recommend this person as a friend or member of one’s family. But there are flashbacks that reveal the loyal friend in childhood, someone there for Nicole in many situations. A protector. Even a rescuer. It is hard to imagine that this same person could have turned into the adult who would refuse a request that would save someone’s life. And not just anyone: his best friend’s.
I found this aspect of The Laws of Gravity very puzzling. Yes, the cord blood might be necessary at some point for one of Ari’s children, but they are all healthy. Therefore, the issue for Ari seems to be one of control. He fears all of those events in life that can swoop down and take away his power.
As understandable as his stance might have been, I still could not root for Ari.
The ending left me with a feeling that is the exact opposite of closure. I wondered if all the loose threads that were still dangling might somehow come together, but they did not. I will remember this story, but not with much pleasure. I am awarding four stars, however, because the book made me think and ponder the complexities in life that present themselves and sometimes require choices that cost us everything.