October 14, 2014

REVIEW: Love and Other Unknown Variables By, Shannon Lee Alexander

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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).

When I picked this book up I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I guess I thought I was going to get a fun, quirky, light-hearted read. In a way I got that. But I was also very very wrong. This story was quirky and fun at times but those other times it was anything but light-hearted. And I loved every minute of it.

"I want infinity, even though I know I can’t reach it.” 

Charlie Hanson is a nerd. He goes to Brighton which is a school for kids who are excellent in math and science. He has always known what was in his future. Valedictorian and future MIT student. He’s honest and straightforward to a fault. He is also a teenage boy. Charlie looks at the world through his complicated math proofs and that hasn’t worked out for him in the getting a girlfriend department. Charlie’s future is about to change when he touches the tattoo on the back of Charlottes neck.

“Charlotte feels like that. Like a problem I’ll never really figure out, but that I know is just right for me.”

Charlotte has had a tough life. Being diagnosed with cancer leaves you in the present without any real hope for the future. So that is what Charlotte is doing. She is living it in her present as best as she can. Charlotte is new to town and makes friends with Charlie’s little sister. So now the girl with the hope tattoo is spending a lot of time in the Hanson house. Charlotte notices the hot nerd but overlooks him until she realizes he is the leader the senior class has chosen to take down the new English teacher. Who happens to be Charlotte’s older sister. Now Charlotte has asked Charlie to prank his teacher so that she can live her life.

“I’ve arrived at an event horizon and there’s no turning back from the black hole sucking all of the pieces that make me whole. Those pieces fly away from me at the speed of light. All but one. The only piece that matters. The one with Charlotte’s name burned into it.”

I am not exactly a book crier. Sure there are books that have made it happen but it’s not something that happens often for me. This book was one that almost did it. Reading some of the other reviews people needed box upon box of tissues so if you are a crier I would get some.

“I begin to understand this one simple truth: the thing I want most in this world is the thing I am most assuredly going to lose-Charlotte Finch.”

Charlie knows there is more going on with Charlotte than she is telling him but even before their first kiss he his willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy. I have a serious crush on Charlie Hanson. He was sweet and funny. Most of the time he wasn’t even trying to be. Charlie is genuine and so easy to love. There is just so many good things about him that I can’t even begin to list them all. He loves all things science and math but soon he will meet people that will show him there are more things he has left to discover. He knows so much but at the same time he knows so little about the world outside of his math and science.

“If you want to fall in love, then fall.”

Charlotte Finch was a great character. She is sick and has been for a while. Now she just wants to live with whatever time she has left. She wants to live it the way she wants to and not in some clinical trial that will take away everything that she is. Charlotte was an amazingly strong character. She manages to be the rock for everyone she loves when it comes to her cancer. I admire her for just wanting to live. She shows Charlie the things that can’t be explained. She shows him that there is more to life than math. There are more things that he needs to learn. She helps Charlie grow and she shows Becca it’s ok to live outside of her books, and that is probably the greatest thing about her.

“Charlotte, when you go, I’ll be left here. You seem to think this puts me at an advantage, but you’re wrong because right now, you’re the most beautiful problem in my life. Compared to you everything seems inconsequential.”

Shannon Alexander doesn’t just create amazing main characters. There were other characters in this story that you couldn’t help but love. Ms. Finch, the English teacher, takes everything Charlie does to her in stride and finds the humor in it too. She also cares and loves her sister beyond anything else. Becca is Charlie’s sister. She lives in her books until Charlotte showed her that it’s ok to have adventures that are not written in her books. She was sweet and patient with her brother as well. I’m not a huge fan of Greta but I though James was hilarious. They are Charlie’s best friends. James shows him that he is strong enough to love Charlotte and be ok when she’s gone. Greta just rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t really care for her.

“Please don’t confuse love and logic, Charlie. They aren’t even remotely related.”

Shannon Alexander created a story that pulls you in. Her writing seems effortless and the story flows in a way that is engaging and makes it impossible to put down. The characters, relationships, and dialogue are realistic and genuine with young readers. This was an amazing coming of age story that was handle with care and told by and amazing male POV. The characters are flawed and real. They have to make some difficult choices that change them forever.

“I can’t win, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. I can’t hold onto Charlotte forever, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t hold her now.”

This book was a lot like The Fault in Our Stars so if you liked the amazing story written by John Green this is definitely a book that you should pick up! 

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