Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Published: Entangled Teen
Source: YA Bound
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)
Charlie Hanson… Sigh.
I can’t be the only person out there who finds it both happy and sad every time they add another book boyfriend to their list, right? I mean, we build these characters up and then… reality. While this book had so many layers and wasn’t meant to be a Charlie swoonfest alone, swooning is exactly what I did. He’s a nerd with iffy ideals about love. From the very first page you can tell that Charlie almost has a clinical way of thinking, which makes sense as he goes to a fancy schmancy school for smarties.
But Charlie isn’t the only character in this story, and not even the most important, though it is written in his POV.
Charlotte Finch has just moved into town. She quickly befriends Charlie’s sister, and though maybe he’s intrigued he knows he can’t go there. Well, life doesn’t always work out the way we have planned, you know? Charlotte comes into the story and basically rocks its world. She’s THAT girl, the one who’s going to change the boys way of thinking.
This story wasn’t just romantic, it was funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. Admittedly, I didn’t break down in tears, but I can see how other readers did. I’ve heard this compared to The Fault in Our Stars, but for me it was a book all its own. Illness was a big portion of the story, however, there were other elements, too, that gave this story balance. Family, friendship, first love… Love and Other Variables has it all.
The writing was well done. You can tell the writer did her research and truly put her heart into this story. It isn’t often that I find a male POV book that I absolutely love. The last that I can think of was The Beginning of Everything, and Charlie definitely ranks up there with Ezra. This was fast paced and kept me enthralled.
The only thing that readers should be cautious of is that this is very YA. Charlie and Charlotte are teenagers. They act like teenagers. Personally, I like to read a true to the genre book every now and then, and this one absolutely did not disappoint.
If you’re looking for a YA novel that will tug at your heart’s strings and give you all… ALL the feels, then I definitely recommend this title.