Title: Love and Other Unknown Variable
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: October 7
Source: Entangled Publishing on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check out this book on Goodreads.
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). (Source: Goodreads)
Charlie is a gifted student who wants, so badly, to go to MIT. He falls to pieces when he meets Charlotte who just wants to live. They’re love is tentative at first before it blossoms into one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever read. This book follows in the tradition of A Walk to Remember, The Fault in Our Stars, and many other tragic and hopeful stories. It’s funny, clever, beautiful, and poetic. I adored it.
I have to admit, I didn’t like Charlie at first. I found him kind of annoying. I get loving math, really I do! I was a mathlete. But it was so hard for me to see past his all consuming love for math, especially because he hates books so much! I think it’s important that I didn’t like him at first, because eventually I loved him. He opened up, blossomed into this beautiful boy who loved people, loved himself, and learned to appreciate things (like books) he never would have considered before. I thought that watching Charlie learn to love books paired so well with him learning to love Charlotte. The two stories really went hand in hand and made for a really moving and beautiful experience.
The side-plots in the book were really excellent as well. Charlie ruins a neighbours garden and then fixes it up for hear, leading to him learning a lot and developing a friendship with her. To be honest, I’ve forgotten her name because Charlie calls her Dimwit so much. I wasn’t such a fan of this nickname. However, the relationship that develops was as beautiful as the one Charlie and Charlotte build. Seeing charlie go from this gruff, annoying kid, to a person who worries over the health of a neighbour and going back to reestablish the beauty of her home on their street was really touching. Charlie develops a lot of really good relationships in this book. The relationship he has with his sister, Becca, was really sweet too. I think Alexander has a gift at writing these kinds of relationships, because they are honestly some of my favourites I’ve read recently.
The main plot of the book deals with cancer a lot. Obviously I’ve made a few comparisons to other media about teenagers diagnosed with cancer. I think it’s kind of unavoidable at this point because the topic is in so many books now. So I’ll say a few things. This book doesn’t have the grit of A. J. Betts’ Zac and Mia, in that it doesn’t deal with the surgeries and injuries and technologies and the side effects to the same degree that Betts did. I think it had a similar kind of tone to The Fault in Our Stars as it also dealt with the concept of infinity, though from a more mathematical point of view, and they are probably comparable. If you were a fan of TFIOS you might like this book.
I think this is probably one of my favourites. I admired that Alexander didn’t spend too much time dealing with the ins and outs of cancer, it wasn’t really necessary. I thought it was more interesting that she dealt more with a cancer patient avoiding treatment and choosing to die while being happy. I won’t say this book is hugely original. It’s not this is kind of a trendy topic now, which makes the book feel a little unoriginal. I think this book was a little lighter, not so heavy on the sentiment or the pain, in my opinion, as a lot of other “cancer” books are. Charlie is very hopeful, which is a huge theme throughout the book. I didn’t cry while reading he book, I smiled a lot though. Like huge, beaming smiles. Some people might say that’s a failure of the book, but I don’t think so. I think the fact that I could smile so much by the end of the book was a really good thing. Alexander made me feel good moving forward, remembering Charlotte. That’s such a big win on her part.
The quality of the writing really makes this book standout. As I’ve said this is a trendy topic, but Alexander adds a lot of poetry to the novel that made it stand out to me. The poetry of the writing really builds with Charlie’s love for books and Charlotte. This really reinforces the development of his character and just made the book stand out to me so much. The sentiment and the humor of this book as so well written that the swinging back and forth between them felt easy and comfortable to me. I can’t think of a specific quote, but I’m going to include this really beautiful moment in the book as an example of Alexander’s great writing:
When our lips meet, it’s as if all the answers I’ve been looking for explode and burn in hot licking flames that flare, then smolder. The ashes of those answers blow away, and I realize, I don’t need them.I need this—Charlotte’s warm lips moving against mine, like lines of poetry strung together on a hyperbolic plane. (p. 225)
I am so excited to share this book with you guys because I loved it so much. Reading this book was like receiving a gift, and I want to share it with you. I will going out and buying a copy of this myself when it comes out and I hope you’ll also pick up a copy and check it out because I highly recommend it!
Have you read Love and Other Unknown Variable? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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