Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LOVE BOOK #03: Love and Other Unknown Variables

The third "Love Book" of the month is Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander. This is part of my February "Love Book" Reading Challenge  wherein I'll read as many books as I can or feature some "Love books" I've already read with the word "Love" in the title. Here's a link to my previous post fully explaining everything.

Since I haven't been reading for the past couple days. I'm going to feature a book I read on January 2015. I completely forgot I wrote some kind of review of the book on Goodreads, but haven't blogged about it yet. So, I just copied everything I wrote and pasted it here so you'll know how I really felt immediately after reading the book.

Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Number of Pages: 336
Date Published: October 7, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).


My Thoughts:

Most of us are already so familiar with the “boy/girl meets cancer kid/teen (or any kind of terminal illness)” story. There are a handful of books with that kind of plot in the YA world. And when we look at this book from afar (the farthest distance you can manage), you'll probably see that it belongs to that infamous story line.

Although it sounds like another version of the well-known and predictable plot, there are some elements of this book that, in my opinion, distinguishes it from the others.

First of all, Charlie Hanson! Although extremely smart, he sounds very normal in my head when I read about him. He's not the typical YA male protagonist you swoon over because of his charm, his good looks, his super niceness, his impeccable ability to win girls over with words or with just a smile. You'll like him because he sounds like a normal person who shouts and gets mad; who's afraid and shy; who feels insecure and vulnerable but does not get all weird about it. Strangely, even when he’s weird and speaks genius, he seems so normal and likeable. And that’s a breath of fresh air when you’ve read books with an almost perfect guy one after the other.

Aside from Charlie, one of the most notable things in the book is that it's not just about Charlie's feelings for Charlotte, or their relationship. It's literally about love and other (un)known variables - the other variables, being all the other relationships of the two protagonists to Ms. Finch, Becca, Greta and James, Mrs. Dunwitty, and their families. The story does not revolve around the sick kid and the tragic love story she is getting into. It is more than that. There's something about the Finch sisters’ relationship; Becca's unbelievably marvelous growth (I love you, Becca. You are f--ng awesome) and her friendship with Charlotte; Charlie's character development, his relationship with his best friends and to Mrs. Dunwitty. The story was woven by the strings of connections each character had with one another, and what you're dying to find out is not how the two will end up or how she will die. You're anticipating how the strings will unravel when the inevitable comes. Because each person is tied, what will become of them after?

I also liked how it felt light despite the theme of the story. It’s not overly dramatic, but you’ll feel a tug in your heart when the sobfest comes or when a character just has his or her moment - kind of bittersweet in a way. But still a great feeling.

I’m pretty sure that I am overreacting right now because I just finished the book and I really liked it, and I want to let loose of these thoughts in my head. I think am having some kind of mental diarrhea that I cannot explain. Or I’m probably speaking the truth. I’m not sure which is which and I’m not sure if these thoughts are accurate. Believe at your own risk. But honest to goodness, this book is great. Go and read it if you love Math (or even if you don’t, you’re not alone).

PS There’s one thing I would love to know, though… What happened to Mrs. Dunwitty?

PPS I love the author’s message at the end of the book. :)

PPPS This is a relatively lengthy review. Whew! First time in a long time.

About the Author:
Shannon Lee Alexander

Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.

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