Audiobook Review: Center of Gravity

26 Aug

510K4Y1r7LL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?



52C-300x231After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura McNeill moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.

Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and​ is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.

Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York.​ Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children.


My Impressions:

I first heard about Center of Gravity from a discussion on a FB group. Published by Thomas Nelson, it is promoted for the Christian market. There were some comments on the page about the profanity used in the book and if there is ever a reason for it to be included in a Christian novel. Rightly or wrongly, the discussion peaked my interest, and I checked the book out on Amazon. The premise was intriguing and the 4 and 5 star reviews outweighed the 1 stars, so I used an Audible credit and commenced to listening. What I found was a un-put-downable psychological suspense novel. What I didn’t find was a Christian novel.

Ava Carson has an idyllic marriage — or so she thinks. Mother to her adopted son Jack, age 8 and her biological son Sam, 16 months, she has a doting and loving husband, a beautiful country club home and a life that seems to good to be true. And that’s because it is. Ava’s husband Mitchell is a sociopath and, when he snaps, he snaps BIG!

Center of Gravity is riveting. The unraveling of Ava’s marriage is unnerving and caused me to have a knot in the pit of my stomach while listening. Many reviewers say it wasn’t really an enjoyable read, and it wasn’t. But it was very good despite the disturbing twists and turns. Well-written with a good sense of place (Mobile, Alabama), it is told in the first person POVs of Ava, Mitchell, Jack, Ava’s attorney Graham, and court-appointed psychologist Lucy. Lots of POVs to be sure, but it really worked. Everything about this book was good, except . . . this is not a Christian novel.

When I pick up a book from a Christian publisher there are a few things I expect — no profanity and a message of hope/redemption even if subtly woven through the narrative. I admit, I like my books with an edginess that is not always found in Christian fiction. I like real people and real problems and the characters don’t have to be Christians. But I do want a message of God’s grace or mercy or sovereignty; something that will point readers to a God bigger and stronger than the circumstances they are facing. Center of Gravity did, indeed, contain profanity. It wasn’t rampant, but it was there. But that’s not my big issue with the book. Ava and Jack were such compelling characters. There could have been so much they could have learned through their struggles if one or two other characters that had relationships with God could have intersected with their lives. The only spiritual event in the novel was when Ava shot up a prayer to “angels” or “a higher being”. Really!? Center of Gravity was a good secular novel. Unfortunately, it could have been an excellent Christian one.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

6 Responses to “Audiobook Review: Center of Gravity”

  1. martyomenko August 29, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Great review! I love how you point out the things you found to be negative, while interweaving them with the positive. I also like how you point out that a negative review helped you choose to buy it.

    • rbclibrary August 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks Martha! Not sure if I am going to read Sister Dear when it is released next Spring. I’ll have to check out the reviews again. 😉

  2. Susanne August 29, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Totally agree with what you expect from a book from a Christian publisher! But this does sound intriguing.

    • rbclibrary August 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      I really am not sure why Thomas Nelson published this book. I would have thought it would have had better marketing from one of Harper Collins’ other imprints. She has another book due out from Thomas Nelson next Spring titled Sister Dear.

      • Nadine C. Keels August 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

        I’ve heard that it has to do with the fact that Thomas Nelson was bought out by a secular company. This year, I started another book published by them that, despite its Christian Fiction label, isn’t Christian Fiction. The profanity bothered me too much to finish the book–not because I don’t ever see profanity in novels (I read more than Christian books), but I felt it was a clear misrepresentation, and I wasn’t comfortable with it. I don’t like seeing the “Christ” label used for just anything. If the book had been published through another imprint, I wouldn’t have been so bothered.

        Thanks for making the distinction in your review! I hope that, if the publisher is currently experimenting to see how much they can “get away with,” per se, in their ChristFic books, enough readers making a distinction might prevent their ChristFic publishing from being convoluted further or permanently.

      • rbclibrary August 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

        Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Harper Collins is Thomas Nelson’s parent company, but I had not noticed any changes in their fiction until this book. Will have to keep an eye out for how far they push the envelope. Christian publishing (as well as all traditional publishing) is going through changes right now. It will be interesting to see which direction the various houses will take.

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