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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 shopuntil 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 illand that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte's illnessCharlotte'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).
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Love and Other Unknown Variables
By Shannon Lee Alexander, Heather Howland, Kari Olson
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Shannon Lee Alexander
All rights reserved.
Beginnings are tricky things. I've been staring at this blank page for forty-seven minutes. It is infinite with possibilities. Once I begin, they diminish.
Scientifically, I know beginnings don't exist. The world is made of energy, which is neither created nor destroyed. Everything she is was here before me. Everything she was will always remain. Her existence touches both my past and my future at one point — infinity.
Lifelines aren't lines at all. They're more like circles.
It's safe to start anywhere and the story will curve its way back to the starting point. Eventually.
In other words, it doesn't matter where I begin. It doesn't change the end.CHAPTER 2
Geeks are popular these days. At least, popular culture says geeks are popular. If nerds are hip, then it shouldn't be hard for me to meet a girl.
Results from my personal experimentation in this realm would suggest pop culture is stupid. Or it could be that my methodology is flawed. When an experiment's results are unexpected, the scientist must go back and look at the methods to determine the point at which an error occurred. I'm pretty sure I'm the error in each failed attempt at getting a girl's attention. Scientifically, I should have removed myself from the equation, but instead, I kept changing the girl.
Each experiment has led to similar conclusions.
1. Subject: Sara Lewis, fifth grade,
Method: Hold her hand under the table during social studies,
Result: Punched in the thigh.
2. Subject: Cara Whetherby, fifth grade, second semester,
Method: Yawn and extend arm over her shoulder during Honor Roll Movie Night,
Result: Elbowed in the gut.
3. Subject: Maria Castillo, sixth grade,
Method: Kiss her after exiting the bus,
Result: Kneed in the balls.
After Maria, I decided my scientific genius was needed for other, better, experiments. Experiments that would write me a first-class ticket to MIT.
I'm tall and ropey with sandy blond hair so fine it's like dandelion fluff — the kind of dork that no amount of pop culture can help. Which is how I already know how this experiment will end, even as my hand reaches out to touch the girl standing in front of me at Krispy Kreme donuts.
There was a long line when I walked in this morning, so I'd been passing the time by counting the ceiling tiles (320) and figuring the ratio of large cups to small cups stacked next to the coffee (3:2). I'd been counting the donuts in the racks (>480) when I noticed the small tattoo on the neck of the girl in front of me.
It's a symbol — infinity. There's a cursive word included in the bottom of one of the loops, but I can't read it because one of the girl's short curls is in the way.
Before I realize what I'm doing, I sweep away the hair at the nape of her neck. She shudders and spins around so fast that my hand is still midair. Flames of embarrassment lick at my earlobes, and I wonder if I should be shielding my man parts from inevitable physical brutality.
"What's your problem?" Her hand cups her neck, covering the tattoo. Her pale skin flushes and her pupils are black holes in the middle of wild blue seas, but since I'm not coughing up my nuts, I'm already doing better with this girl than any before.
She's waiting for me to explain.
It takes too long to find words. She's too beautiful with that raven-hued hair and those eyes. "I wanted to see your tattoo."
"So, ask next time."
I nod. She turns back around.
The curl has shifted.
The word is "hope."
"Rapido, Chuck. J's pissing his pants because we're going to be 'tardy,'" Greta says, using her shoulders to wedge the door open so she can make air quotes around James's favorite word. "God, it smells good in here."
Greta McCaulley has been my best friend since our freshman year at Brighton. On the first day of Algebra II, Mr. Toppler held a math contest, like a spelling bee only better. I came in second, one question behind Greta. Since then, her red hair, opinions, and chewed-up cuticles have been a daily part of my life. She has a way of ignoring the stuff about me that makes others want to punch me. And she's equal parts tenacity and loyalty — like a Labrador/honey badger mutt.
She'd also beat the crap out of me if she knew I'd just thought of her as a hybridized breed of animal.
Outside, her boyfriend James unfolds himself from the cramped backseat of my car, and rips open the heavy doors. "People of Krispy Kreme, I will not be made tar —" He takes a quick breath and loses his concentration. Krispy Kreme's sugary good smell remains invincible.
Greta stands beside me in line, while James drifts toward a little window to watch the donuts being born in the kitchen. Greta and James have been together since the second quarter of ninth grade. If I wanted to continue to hang out with Greta, her Great Dane of a boyfriend would have to become part of my small circle of friends.
Actually, it's not a circle. It's a triangle. I'd need more friends to have a circle.
The girl with the tattoo steps up and orders a glazed and a coffee. She's about our age, but I don't know her, which means she must go to my sister's high school, Sandstone. It's for the regular kids. I go to Brighton School of Math and Science. It's for the nerds.
Greta leans into my shoulder, and I know I'm not supposed to notice because a) we've been friends for a long time, b) James is four feet away, and c) I just fondled a stranger's neck, but Greta's left breast brushes against my arm.
"So what's with the girl?" she asks. "I saw her turn and —"
My ears feel warm. "Shhh."
Mercifully, Greta whispers, "I thought she was going to punch you."
"What'd you do?"
"She has a tattoo," I say, shrugging.
"And, I may have touched it."
Greta's mouth hangs open, a perfect donut.
"Fine. I touched it."
"Where?" Greta quickly turns and scans the girl. "Oh, thank God," she breathes, touching the correlating spot on her own bare neck. "I thought maybe it was a tramp stamp."
I must look blank because Greta points to her lower back, just below the waistline of her khaki uniform skirt.
"God, no," I say, too loudly. The girl with the hope tattoo glances over her shoulder. Greta and I both look at our shoes.
James steps in front of us, and for once I'm thankful that the width of 1 James = 2 Charlies + 1 Greta. His large frame blocks us from the girl's glare. James taps the face of his watch.
"I know," I say. "Look, both of you go back to the car. I'll be right there. We have plenty of time to make it before the first bell."
They turn to leave just as the girl is stepping away from the counter, coffee in one hand and donut in the other. I should let her walk away and be thankful she didn't punch me, but without thinking, I touch her arm as she goes by. I can feel the muscle of her bicep tighten under my fingertips.
I'm locked in place, like when an electric shock seizes all the muscles in your body so that the only thing that can save you — letting go of the electrical source — is the only thing you can't do.
"Yes?" she asks, her jaw looking as tight as her bicep feels.
"I wanted to apologize."
"Oh," she says. Her muscles relax. "Thanks."
She smells amazing. At least, I think it's her and not the warm donut in her hand. Either way, I have to force myself to focus on what I was about to say.
"So, I'm sorry." Now, walk away. Go, Hanson. "But I'm afraid you're mistaken about infinity. Infinity is quantifiable. Hope is immeasurable."
Her expression shifts, like Tony Stark slipping into his Iron Man mask. She shakes her arm free from my slack grip. "So if it can't be measured, I shouldn't count on it? That's bleak, man. Very bleak."
She turns and pushes through the door.
Subject: Girl with the hope tattoo, first day of senior year,
Method: Grope her neck. Follow with a lecture on topics in advanced mathematics,
Result: No physical harm, but left doubting whether I'll ever figure this relationship stuff out.CHAPTER 3
I pull into the school parking lot as James finishes the last of his donuts. He ate all six. He also ate one of mine. Greta hasn't touched hers yet. She'd been fixated on the scenery of the suburbs dying off and the city rising up, the same scenery we've seen every day for three years. The early morning sun winks through the haze of southern humidity clinging to the buildings like a wet blanket. I guess it is hard to believe this is our last first day of school at Brighton. Only 179 more morning drives like this one.
I spent the time wondering what someone would do with boundless hope. I mean, that's a lot of hope.
"What'd you think of that tattoo, Gret?"
Greta turns away from the window, one ginger brow arched. "I think it's none of our business."
"Yeah, but don't you think that's maybe an excessive amount of hope?"
"Depends what you're hoping for. Why do you care? And what was with that stellar display of social ineptitude back there?"
"I don't care." Except, why hope? And why can't I stop thinking about the way the soft skin of her neck felt under my fingertips? And why did she look so sad just before she stormed away? I need more data. "Let's just call it an experiment."
James laughs, leaning forward between the front seats. "Thought you'd agreed to let the big boys do that research," he says, flexing the thick muscles of his forearms.
Greta snorts, but I catch her watching the muscles dance.
"I'd offer to get y'all a room, but I wouldn't want James to be tardy." They both blush. "Oh, but look at that," I say, pulling into an open spot, "three whole minutes to spare. Maybe I should have stopped?"
And the punch I've been waiting for all morning finally lands on my shoulder, solid enough to rock me sideways a bit.
"Oh, shut up, idiot," Greta says, shaking out her fist, "or I'll destroy that proof you've been working on in seven seconds flat."
"You can't disprove shit," I say, but a sliver of doubt wedges in my mind.
That proof is my ticket to winning over Dr. Martin K. Bell, god of mathematics, who will take me under his wing at MIT next year and mentor me, until one day he'll proclaim, There is nothing more for me to teach you. The student has outshone the teacher. Shortly after, I'll receive the Nobel Prize.
I've got a lot riding on this proof.
"I only need six seconds," James counters, a wide, white smile lighting his dark brown face.
They bicker about who can dismantle three years of my work the fastest as we climb out of the car. Eager to change the subject, I point at Greta's uneaten donut.
"Ungrateful much, Gret? 'Take me to donuts,' you said. So I did." I fold my arms across my chest in mock protest.
James swoops in and tries to pluck it from her hands. "I'll eat it. I'm still hungry."
Greta's attention is diverted. "How can you be hungry, J? You've eaten more calories than a cheerleader eats in a week."
"What cheerleader?" James says, pretending to look around for one. Brighton doesn't have cheerleaders. We'd need sports teams to justify them. Mathletes don't count, even if they think they do. "Show me the cheerleader?"
They're a teenage version of a middle-aged married couple. She shoulders her large bag, and sighs. "Why do I put up with him?"
I shrug. "Beats me, but someone may as well enjoy that donut. I almost got beaten up by a girl getting it for you."
"If it means that much to you ..." She shoves the entire donut in her mouth at once, and smiles at me, her freckled cheeks full of donut.
"Did you see that?" James asks as she walks away, his voice soft, maybe even reverent. James thinks most everything Greta does is amazing — even the gross stuff — which gives me hope for a positive experiment result in the future.
Not infinitely hopeful, of course. That's just nonsense.CHAPTER 4
At lunch, we eat under an apple tree in the courtyard. There is a plaque dedicating the tree to a former principal with her favorite quote, "Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why."
James leans against the plaque as he compares our schedules for this year. He and I had a class together this morning. I've got advanced physics with Greta after lunch, and we'll all meet up again at the end of the day for senior English.
"Wonder who the new target is this year," James muses, cramming his schedule card back in his pocket.
The target in question would be the English teacher. Brighton goes through English teachers like Hogwarts devours Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers.
"We can deduce it's a female," I point out, tapping the name on my schedule card. Ms. Finch — Senior English.
"Hope she's not like Ms. Kelly the fem-bot," James says with a shudder.
Greta is busy finding something in her bag. "Not this already," she says. Her face is mostly buried in there, but the part of it I can see looks annoyed. "Promise me you dorks will stay focused on what's important."
"I am always focused," I say.
Greta looks up. "True," she says, a flicker of her fierce protectiveness crossing her face. Two years ago, I took on too much — too many classes, mathletes team captain, a junior internship with the university physics department, and a shot at the national science fair. I failed an assignment in chemistry. I'd never failed before. My mind went a little berserk.
I only remember pieces (which Dr. McCaulley, Greta's psychologist mom, says is normal), but I was convinced I could work out the glitch in my chemistry experiment if I could give it one more try. Of course, in order to do that, I needed to break into Dr. Stormwhiler's lab. It was one a.m., and I may have triggered an alarm when picking the lock on the disused gym door.
Alone inside the school, I panicked and called Greta. Her mom called the police and met them here. Greta found me, catatonic by that time, in the storage room off one of the labs.
If Greta hadn't been there to pull me back from the edge, and tell me to stop being a whiny quitter, I'd have left school and given up on all my ambitions.
Turning her attention toward James, Greta says, "You promise to stay focused." She punctuates the sentence by poking him in the arm with a pencil she's just pulled from her bag.
"Hey, I'm focused."
Greta scoffs. James scowls at the apple he's about to bite into. "Whatever."
Satisfied, Greta starts scribbling computations in her notebook while James rubs a bruise on his apple and mumbles loud enough for me to hear, "I'm focused. Focused on carrying out a proud high school tradition."
Brighton is a STEM academy. The mission statement, emblazoned on another plaque by the front office, states our time here is meant to prepare us for futures in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Our motto (yep, another plaque) is Aut viam inveniam aut faciam. Meaning, "I'll either find a way or make one."
So, we've found a way to reduce the time we have to spend on things like poetry and literature by making the English teachers hate their jobs here. It's not hard either. It only takes a little shove to start a ball rolling before inertia takes over. The constant tide of teachers means that little learning goes on in the English classroom.
It's a simple equation. No teacher = no English. No English = more time for things that matter. Like math.
We take seats near the back of the English room. I study the bookshelves lining all four walls and crammed full of books. I don't recognize any of the titles, which isn't saying much. Above the bookshelves are paintings. Big ones of trees with people laughing as they hang in the branches. Small ones of books stacked neatly. Tall paintings with stacks of books in the act of tumbling over. Forty-two paintings. They are all different, but the same.
Forty-two paintings, but zero teachers.
At Brighton, class starts on time. In fact, the advanced physics teacher, Mrs. Bellinger, will write you up for tardiness for being on time. She says "on time" is late. James is in love with Mrs. Bellinger.
Excerpted from Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander, Heather Howland, Kari Olson. Copyright © 2014 Shannon Lee Alexander. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A little cheesy and cliche but was really enjoyable.
This book is well written. I not only cared about the stort's outcome but also the characters as well. You will laugh and cry.
The beginning to around the middle of this book was really slow for me. It was hard for me to get into. Take whatever you think you know about this book and forget it. This book was ridiculously good. If you think you know what this story is about your probably wrong. I wasn't expecting much depth to this story. But this book is really deep. It really delves into a certain topic. It was just so good. I just need to talk about this ending. Throughout the book your hoping something isn't going to happen but when it does happen it rips you into 2 pieces. By the ending your just crying your eyes out. Your going to fall in love with these characters by the end and its just going to rip you up and tear you into pieces. Its just THAT amazing. I loved her tattoo. Infinity Hope How they incorporated into the cover. I just loved it. The cover and dust jacket is just what drew me into the story. I am just so happy I got to read this story. I loved the sweet romance to the story. It wasn't what you expected. It was just a fall in love high school romance. Full of emotions and just so sweet. Please read this story. Its just an emotional rollercoaster. That you will love. The depth to this book is very unexpected. This is definately a must read story. That every teenager and YA fan will LOVE. 5 stars
I would say read the heck out of this book because it is worth the time. Each character is unique in its own way. This journey is amazing and I recommend it to everyone.
The plot, the love, the lost. Stop comparing it to other books. It's beautiful on its own. Couldn't put it down!!
DO NOT start this book - if you don't have time to finish it. One of the hardest things I did over the weekend was put the book down to finish a paper for grad school. It is the best book I've read this year, and I cannot speak highly enough of this moving YA debut novel by Shannon Lee Alexander. Though it's being described as a "read alike" for The Fault in Our Stars" (and it is), this book should be read on its own merit. The protagonist, Charlie, has his life plotted out - valedictorian, MIT... He knows he hasn't been able to figure out girls in the past, and he figures he won't be able to now. He meets Charlotte, a girl with the symbol for infinity tattooed on her neck - a girl with links to math? He falls hard, then finds out Charlotte has a secret. In addition to having a mathematically-voiced protagonist I believed, emotion I felt, and characters I REALLY cared about, I appreciated allusions to other literature throughout the book - Harry Potter in snippets and many references to To Kill a Mockingbird. I was also astounded by the lengths to which the English teacher at Charlie's school went went to entice the math and science majors to connect with poetry (who knew there were so many mathematical references in poems?!)
Let's get our pi on! Charlie and Charlotte were fun to read about, and I'm not gonna lie - there were some emotional moments in there as well. Love and Other Unknown Variables is the perfect title for not only this novel but also life (let me just get a bit sappy here for a moment, okay?) itself. Because let's face it, there are a LOT of things in life that come our way many times unexpectedly, and sometimes those things are happy and positive, other times they're sad. I adore Charlie - he's a math genius trying to solve Charlotte as though she's a math problem because he can't figure her out and can't resist solving a problem. At his age, girls are a mystery anyway, and when Charlotte comes into his life, her presence has him questioning everything he thought he knew. I love that his future suddenly doesn't seem so clear and that he's forced to think about things differently. Life isn't a straight path; we're thrown curves all the time. That he hasn't been thrown a curve in his path until now is amazing. Greta and her boyfriend James are great minor characters as Charlie's friends. James gets the ball rolling in messing with the new literature teacher, Ms. Finch, who also happens to be Charlotte's sister. Every year the students cause the literature teacher to quit because they don't believe the subject is as important as math and science. They've gotten away with it every year until now. Ms. Finch is determined to find a way in through the cracks in the wall they've built. Charlie's sister and Charlotte become close friends, and Charlotte ends up spending a lot of time at Charlie's house as a result. She surprises him at every turn. She breathes fresh air into his life, proving to him he doesn't know everything about people like he previously thought. I love it when characters' lives are turned upside down like this. Charlie was so cute wanting to kiss Charlotte and picturing it while missing what she was saying! I think if I were Charlotte, I would have kept my illness to myself, too. I wouldn't want the looks of sympathy or to be treated differently. It's understandable but also unfair to Charlie in a way since he grows close to her not knowing she has this huge secret. And when he finds out, it doesn't compute in his head. I just found out what it's like to have your heart in a blender while reading Love and Other Unknown Variables. It was terrible and wonderful all at once. Exactly the way real life is - terrible and wonderful at the same time. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I just want to share: I LOVE the cover of this book. So simple yet amazing. I especially love the math symbols. Perfect. A beautifully moving story about love, friendship, and hope. Charlie is a Math geek. Pretty much everything he views in the world he can make the mathematical/scientific connection. (Which I found fascinating!) He has his future planned out before him and knows what he wants. Then he meets Charlotte, and things start to change. I love this book! I really enjoyed reading it. I think that is was a fast read, because the story really grabbed my attention. I had so many emotions while reading this book! I loved all the references in this book too, especially all the comic book characters. I think there is a wonderful combination of love/romance and friendship in the story. And the story felt realistic to me. I think that not only is the story well developed, but I think the characters are absolutely wonderful! Charlie has always struggled with trying to talk to girls. And the day he meets Charlotte is no different. I found it a tiny bit weird that he reaches out to touch the girl's tattoo on the back of her neck, but I feel that it also adds to his awkwardness around girls. At first, I felt like Charlie can be a bit of a jerk to those around him, mean to his sister (which is a pretty realistic sibling relationship) and a bit to his two friends, Greta and James. But I really loved watching his character develop throughout the story. And I came to really love his relationships with others in his life. Not just Charlotte, his friends and family. But the relationship created with Mrs. Dunwitty and Ms. Finch. And I love that these relationships help him see a different side to life and the world. Charlotte is an amazing character! I really love her. She has so much hope and I love that she stands up for it. She has pretty much accepted her future. She wants to live life to the fullest and look at the beauty in everything. She is very artistic. She doesn't take crap from people. She felt very real to me and I became very attached to her character. She can be stubborn and frustrating at times, but also very sweet and caring. And I love that she is the opposite of Charlie. Becca is Charlie's sister and she is quiet and sweet. She keeps to herself a lot. She likes to read, which I love. But her future changes in this story too, because she makes a friend. I did love seeing her sibling relationship develop more through out the book. And think that Becca's character is a great addition to the story. I love Greta and James. Not only do I love their relationship. I love their friendship with Charlie. They are wonderful friends. They get into shenanigans together. They are always there for each other and they fight. Greta cares so much for Charlie as a friend and I love that she is there to help him. And James is just wonderful. He is not only a great friend to Charlie, but he is a great boyfriend to Greta. I also like that Charlie and Becca's parents are present but not really overbearing in the story. I love all the parts of the story that have Mrs. Dunwitty. They are funny. And like I said before I really love the relationship that develops between her and Charlie. Also, Ms. Finch. I really love her. And felt for her. She is the new English teacher at Charlie's school and is subject to so many pranks. She has a lot of patience. And I love how things progress through her interactions with Charlie. The pranks were entertaining and remind me a bit of high school. I was in the advanced program at my school and I had the same classes with the same advanced classmates for the entire four years. In fact, if I hadn't been in band as well, I probably wouldn't have known very many people outside of the advanced program. We didn't play pranks on our teachers everyday. But there was Senior Prank day and the Seniors always went all out to prank all the teachers. And these pranks reminded me of those days. My Recommendation: This story made me laugh. It brought tears to my eyes. And it gave me hope. I not only enjoyed the story, but it had characters that I love! I highly recommend reading it. ***I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
Charlie's life is about to change forever. On the first day of his senior year at the "nerd" (math and science) high school, Charlie touches the eternity tattoo on the neck of a girl in the donut shop. Meet Charlotte, a sophomore at the "normal" high school, who soon becomes the best and only friend of Charlie's bookworm younger sister, Becca. As a result, Charlotte is constantly hanging around Charlie's house, and Charlie starts messing up at school because he can't stop thinking about her. Meanwhile, Charlie's friends, James and Greta, are continuing the tradition of trying to get rid of their new English teacher, who just happens to be Charlotte's big sister, Ms. Finch. Charlie is reluctant to join in until Charlotte begs him to help them out. Why is Charlotte so keen to keep her sister distracted? What secret is Charlotte keeping from Charlie? Readers are bound to fall for Charlie, a math genius who makes equations and experiments out of everything. He is a great narrator, and the author does an amazing job of getting inside the head of a nerdy teenage boy. The author's use of Charlie's mathematical and scientific metaphors and similes is very clever, as are her literary references through Ms. Finch. The supporting characters, especially Becca, James, Greta, and Mrs. Dunwitty, are also extremely well-drawn, with unique personalities. The story is so engaging, I forgot to take notes. The writing is beautiful and so full of raw emotion, you can tell the author has suffered a loss of her own. This book is so good that I ordered the hardback version as soon as I finished reading my review copy. Funny, touching, and simply brilliant. I received this book in return for an honest review.
I loved this story. I actually wasn't sure how I felt about it for a while, but in the end, I ended up loving it. It was so brilliant, and made me have all the feels. And I rarely ever have the feels. But I enjoyed this one so, so much. I love nerd characters. And Charlie is no different. Super brainy, he's on course to go to MIT and be some freaky genius kid. He has boiled down love to science, and doesn't have time for the derailment of his perfect plans. But that all changes the day he meets another Charley--Charlotte Finch. Charlie is a very blunt character. He is definitely a huge geek, but that made him endearing and lovable. (And he definitely reminded me of a few of my own friends, so I can definitely say he was written realistically). I also loved the secondary characters in this. Greta and James were awesome best friends. I love that we have a family dynamic, as we get to see his interactions with his sister Becca and his parents. I even loved Mrs. "Dimwit", as all her parts made me laugh. And Charlotte. At first, I didn't think I would like her, but she grew on me. You can't help but love her by the end. She's a free spirit, just wants to experience life before it is taken from her. Both her and Charlie go through so much growth throughout the book and I loved seeing that. I think Charlie even became a better brother to Becca by the end, and I loved seeing how important family was in this book. I think the pacing at the beginning lagged a bit, but once it picked up, I was fully drawn into the story. Charlie and Greta and James made me laugh. Charlie's special brand of nerd humor definitely made me laugh. I loved all the nerd talk thrown in throughout the book. I also loved Ms. Finch and her resolve to make these math and science nerds see the value of literature. I mean, I'm a science geek too, but I love my fine arts classes just as much, if not even more. This was a beautifully written story. It's sad in parts, but it's also happy. The serious was wonderfully balanced out by the fun. It's a compelling story, and I can't recommend it enough.
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!
I should say that the first thing that caught my eye was the cute, bright and interesting cover. Then I read the synopsis and I knew that this book is for me and I have to read it. So I did 'Love and Other Unknown Variables' is a novel that will play with your feelings, that will make you happy and sad, you'll laugh and you'll feel that your heart was shattered...and then the pieces are glued together. I can't say that this is a fluffy, cute and light read, because it has some serious part too. Is more that kind of novel that makes you think and look better and closer at things and people. Not every thing that is cute and colorful outside is rainbowy inside. Or maybe outside is dark and ugly but inside is warm and colorful. And people too. I really liked how the plot developed and how everything started to make sense, bit by bit, with every chapter. The characters are beautiful, with complexe personalities and each one is so special and different from the other, but in the same time they're so alike. Charlie and Charlotte are two people that are trying to figure out life and make friends and have fun, and fall in love, even if the life is not so good or they have issues. I liked how their relathionship grew through the novel and I'm happy that they had such cute and funny moments together. So, I'll end here, because if I talk more I'm afraid I'll spoil something and I don't want that to happen. But if you're looking for a cute, fluffy and funny read, but also with a deep and realistic part, and with cute characters then try this. I'm sure you'll enjoy it! : )
I’m going to warn you guys now, okay? You see that cover and you think about a fun, light, fluffy romance. But it’s a lie! It’s not light and fluffy at all. So instead of warm fuzzy feelings, bring your tissues when you settle to read this book. And make sure you have time for it because I couldn’t put it down. And you won’t be able to either. Probably. Charlie is an old-fashioned nerd. He loves Marvel comic books and algebra. He’s brilliant and most likely going to MIT. He has an anwser for everything. Until Charlotte flies into his life. He meets her in a donut shop. She stands in the line before him and he sees her tattoo and touches it. Their next encounter is at his home. She’s his sister new friend. And Charlotte’s sister is his new English teacher. And when Charlie finds out Charlotte is sick, he finds himself with more questions he can’t hope to answer. I was not counting on this, you know. I didn’t prepare for heartbreak and feels all over the place. The story itself is pretty basic but I still loved most of it. I didn’t like the pranks they pulled on the English teacher. You see, Charlie goes to a school for very smart kids and they all pretty much hate literature and stuff. Yeah I hated that. I hated how they treated Charlotte’s sister. It was mean! I was so frustrated by that every time it came up. But that’s the only thing that really bothered me. I loved the friendship between Becca, Charlie’s sister, and Charlotte. Becca is a quiet booknerd who never had any real friends. She was so adorable and she reminded me a lot of myself. I loved Charlie’s friendship with Greta and James and how his bond with his sister grew in this book. But most I loved Charlie himself. He’s such an adorkable nerd! It was so cute and funny at times to see him figure out all these feelings he’s never had before. Feelings he can’t explain with math. I loved that guy and my heart broke for him, it really did. I wanted to crawl into the book and hug him. Greta and James are great characters and great friends to him. They supported him through everything and I did love both of them! That ending though. Those last few chapters were probably more then I could handle. I do really recommend this book, but just make sure you have tissues close when you’re in the second half of the book. Love and Other Unknown Variables really suprised me and I loved it.
Charlie and Charlotte, from the moment he touched her tattoo he knew he wanted more. Charlotte had just moved there with her sister and Charlotte was starting over, anew. Charlie didn’t have much experience with girls so he had to rely on his female friends when he didn’t know what to do. His questions and his comments sometimes were funny and so childlike, I just had to laugh. This relationship began slowly but would be one that would be memorable to a few individuals. With Charlotte’s sister as the new teacher in the school, the students would pull pranks on her in hopes of her resignation. They did this to all the new English teachers which seemed so childlike for me for high school students to do; it just bothered me that they spent their time doing this. I had a time with the beginning of this book. I couldn’t connect with the characters and I felt as if I was just reading the words on the page. I understood what was happening, it seemed flat. As if, there was no real drama or nothing noteworthy to care about. It wasn’t until the ending of the book that things started to happen. The relationship with Charlie and his neighbor, I really enjoyed that part. She was a real spunky lady. Charlie and Charlotte’s relationship starts to build up in steam and other relationships start to get heated. There were parts in the second half of the books that were abruptly stopped. I was taken aback by a few events in the second part that I thought should have been drawn out also but I was stopped in my tracks. I was given a ARC copy of this book from NetGalley and Entangled Publishing LLC in exchange for an honest opinion.
Yes Yes and Yes. This book was awesome. I did not expect to fall in love with this book but I did. I literally could not put it down and ended up staying up til 1am to finish it because I had to keep reading. Now, I've read The Fault in Our Stars when it first came out and liked it. I rated it 5 stars but now with all the hype, I can't remember why I gave it 5 stars. However, this is a book I'll remember. I'll remember laughing out loud at points. I will remember shedding a tear at the end, not something I usually do with books unless a dog dies. I will remember how smart Charlie was yet so stupid at the same time. I'll remember his friendships with Greta and James and his sister. I'll remember Charlie and Charley, the most imperfect perfect love story. Everyone needs to read this book. It was adorable. I can't wait until it comes out so I can start handing it out to people!
For a debut novel, Shannon Lee Alexander has done an amazing job bringing readers a fresh story that will certainly leave everyone wanting for more. Charlie Hanson's story had me captivated from the very beginning. It was interesting and entertaining to read from a male's point-of-view. His perspective on things were refreshing, and so was his personality. He has a clear vision of what he wants to do with his future, and attending Brighton School of Mathematics and Science has his ticket to MIT, but being mathematically gifted doesn't give him any luck at finding a date. Every time he tries to make a move on a girl, he ends up getting hurt, (he basically doesn't know how to act around girls), but his luck changes when he meets Charlotte, the girl with an infinite tattoo that catches his attention from the start. Being new to town, Charlotte quickly befriends Charlie's younger sister and starts spending a lot of time at Charlie's house. Although their first encounter was unexpected, Charlie immediately finds Charlotte interesting, but stops himself from pursuing a relationship with her because he doesn't want to damage the friendship that Charlotte has with his sister. As the new school year begins, the students at Brighton are preparing to send their college applications, but first they have to take an English class, and with that comes a new English teacher, who also happens to be Charlotte's older sister. But being a school of math and science, not everyone takes literature seriously, and the students are determined to get Ms. Finch to quit by starting a series of pranks to get her to leave. What they don't know is that Ms. Finch knows what she is up against and is willing to ignore their pranks. When Charlie finds out that Charlotte happens to be Ms. Finch's younger sister, he starts to question whether to stop the pranks or not. As soon as Charlotte finds out about them, she convinces Charlie to keep going with the pranks in order to get Ms. Finch's attention away from her. What started with them spending time together, ends up becoming so much more the minute Charlie finds himself falling for Charlotte. But not everything is forever, and things change when he finds out what Charlotte has been hiding from everyone, including him. I really liked the overall idea of the book, I had some teary-eyed moments, but it wasn't awfully depressing at the end. Alexander did a good job executing the story and even the way the chapters were numbered was creative. I'm not someone that enjoys math, but adding it to the story really made it unique. Apart from having its funny scenes, the book also deals with a serious topic that did not overpower the book. The character's personalities, especially Charlie's personality was my favorite, he is just one of the sweetest guy's I've ever read in any book. He is timid, who also has a sense of humor, blushes (a lot...:D), and he also happens to be very, very, very smart. The book was very well-written, and the ending was satisfying (although I feel that there could have been one more to the ending, it felt a bit abrupt for me), but that's just my preference. Overall, if you are looking for a heartwarming story that is full of funny scenes, and romance, then I highly recommend this book, it would not disappoint. :) *ARC provided by Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Well, let’s start with this cover. Seriously?! This “totes adorbs”, if there ever was such a saying. ;) At first glance I knew it was a book made just for me. *cheesin’ grin* I fall hard for book covers, especially when they’re as adorable as this one. As most of my friends and readers know, I’m a HUGE contemp fan. And this book just screams, “Lisa, you will LOVE this book!!” Guess what… the cover was totally accurate in that proclamation because I DID love it! This is one of those books that starts off one way, then just takes a completely different turn and heads another. At first it was a bit on the slow side. I wasn’t sure I was in the mood to read it… but thankfully, I stuck with it, and, oh, man, am I happy that I did! I quickly got to know this fantastic group of characters, felt a part of their story, and it just went full-speed ahead from there. I kinda wish this synopsis stopped before the last paragraph. I went into this book having not read the description in months and really not knowing what it was about. So when the View Spoiler » came upon me, I was shocked. I had spent the beginning part of the story not knowing what was up with Charlotte and Jo and coming up with all different ideas in my head. Yes, one of my thoughts happened to be corrected, but I had liked not knowing. I feel knowing beforehand kind of takes a bit away from the story. So if you haven’t read the synopsis yet (the “spoiler” above is for you guys ;) ) do yourself and favor and don’t. Just go into this story blind. I do that with almost every book I read. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter… other times, it makes all the difference. “Simply put: time is fluid. The faster your world spins out of control, the slower time crawls. The more time you need, the less you’re sure to get. It’s all relative” This is definitely a book I will be recommending to others for a longggggg time. I think it’s great for teenagers, as well as us adults that really enjoy our YA stories. Its cast of strong-personality characters really leads this story to a perfect conclusion. It delves into some pretty serious real-life issues, while loaded with tons of silliness and laughs. This is one of those books that I think a majority of people will enjoy, regardless of your genre preference. I’ll definitely be telling my teenage niece about this one. Just be warned… All. The. Feels.
I absolutely love “Love and Other Unknown Variables” by Shannon Lee Alexander. This story had me completely hooked right away. This story is about love, friendship, learning, and trying to conquer death. Charlie is doing an experiment in theory. He is trying to figure out how girls and relationships work. Charlie sees this girl in line at Krispy Kreme and her hair is hiding half of a tattoo. It is an infinity sign that says something, so Charlie decides to brush the girl’s hair aside to look at it when she whips around to scold him. Little did Charlie know that he would see this girl again. Last thing Charlie expected when he got home was to see the girl with the infinity tattoo in his house. Come to find out this is Becca’s (his sister) new friend. Charlie can’t seem to get this girl out of his head. Charlotte only wants to be where she feels at home and the place she feels most at home is Charlie and Becca’s house. Who knew that normal Becca would have a math geek of a brother. Charlotte is dying and she doesn’t want to be cured, instead she wants to live life to the fullest. Fall in love, hang out with friends, be a normal kid who doesn’t have a normal life. Charlotte doesn’t want to be pitied. She just wants to be loved and show love to those that she cares about.This story is all about love and friendship. Charlie falls in love with Charlotte but when he finds out that he is dying, he doesn’t know what to do. He can’t save her but he doesn’t want to lose her either. I have to say that I fell in love with this story. I was hooked from the very beginning. I thought the chapter set ups were unique and fun. The background of the pages look like graph paper which was a lot of fun. The characters were amazing. I felt like I got to know all of the characters. They were portrayed really well in my opinion. Charlotte and Charlie were amazing characters. The reader really gets to feel the depth of their souls and feelings. Charlie is this nerd that goes to a specialized math school and he thinks he knows everything but Charlotte has a few lessons to teach him. Charlotte has cancer and she just wants to live life to the fullest. Charlie is able to help her with this. I think this story is a must read. It will very much take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. These teens have to grow up, the things the world throws at you, you don’t always have a choice. The world has a cruel way of making kids grown up faster than they should and this is a prime example of that. “Love and Other Unknown Variables” is a fantastic story that everyone should give a chance and try to read. Be prepared…you may cry.
Charlie Hanson is a senior at Brighton and ready to go to MIT, he’s also a bit of a math and science genius. Everything is going to according to plan, the only thing is, and he isn’t too good at talking to girls. Then one day he is standing in line at the Krispy Kreme and he sees her, the girl with the infinity tattoo. While standing behind her he touches the tattoo on her neck and she turns around not impressed, little did Charlie know he would be seeing a lot more of her. When Charlie gets to class her meets his new English teacher, Ms. Finch, and at Brighton, English teacher do not last too long. The students pull pranks and make sure each teacher is miserable, but there’s something else about Ms. Finch, she looks like an old version of the girl with the infinity tattoo. That day when Charlie goes home, he sees the girl with the infinity tattoo in his own house; it’s his sister, Becca’s, new friend, Charlotte. She informs him that her sister is his new English teacher is her sister and needs Charlie’s help, she needs him to distract her at school, this way Ms. Finch will leave Charlotte alone at home. The more Charlotte hangs out at Charlie’s house the more he falls for her, but Charlotte is sick, and he needs to figure out how he truly feels before it’s too late. I am by no means a math genius and to be quite honest some of the language bored me, but that does not mean in any shape or form that I did not enjoy his book, I thought it was absolutely great! It was very interesting how Charlie compare different things to Mathematics. I also thought it was interesting how Ms. Finch explained how Mathematics and English and related to each other. Also, as a teacher it I appreciated how she appeared to her students’ interests to get them engaged. Every single character was special in their own way and I connected to each and every one of them. They all had me laughing and sharing their pain. I especially loved Charlie’s neighbor Mrs. Duwitty! She had me laughing almost every time she was in the book!!! I also fell in love with the story between Charlie and Charlotte, they had such an adorable connection and I was rooting for them to find each other.
This has gradually become one of my favourite books. Sure maybe the writing isn't THE best (still great though), and there were flaws, but honestly, those aren't the most important factors. (Although it doees make up most the book...) What I loved about this book was how the characters seemed to human. If we looked in at the little details, Shannon did a great job in blowing life into them :D It was beautiful. The book inspired me that inscribed books make the best presents haha xD I didn't know how impacting those could be if done right. Pluus i'm going to resume How to Kill a Mockingbird shortly even though this practically spoilt everything. (I've been stuck 100 pages through the past month so doesn't really matter. Coincidence I was already reading it?) Gosh I cried so much in this book it's not even funny! I didn't expect this when I first picked it up ;O My poor unsuspecting emotions. And with that note, i'm just going to mysteriously stop talking *evil laugh* Hopefully it caught your attention..(sort of? No? YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SAY NO!) Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is going to be a bestseller, and i'll be really disappointed if it isn't.Thank you Ms Alexander for an awesome debut, and thank you Entangled Publishing for a free review copy!! I couldn't be happier. Conclusion: Read it now. Don't hesitate. Producers better get more film ready... I already want a movie adaption. ;)
A free advanced reader copy of this book was provided by Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration. “Please don’t confuse love and logic, Charlie. They aren’t even remotely related.” OK, so: first, let me just say that I have been watching for this book for a *long* time. Ages ago, Mike Mullin–whom a lot of you will know from the Ashfall series–mentioned that one of his writing group friends had had her book picked up, and that it was excellent (I’m totally paraphrasing, here, because it was a LONG time ago). I made note of the friend’s name, and because I love Mike’s writing and trust his judgment, did exactly as he told me. And when the book, Love and Other Unknown Variables, popped up on NetGalley, lemme tell ya, I have never pounced on anything so hard! The peeps at Entangled Teen, the book’s publishers, told me I would love Charlie. Oh, how right they were! CHARLIE IS ADORABLE. He’s crazy smart, mildly awkward, capable when it comes to most everything, and totally confused about girls. I wanted to grab him and hug his head about 15 different times. He’s a completely realistic boy, in my limited experience, and I loved how much we got to see inside his thought processes, especially when it comes to Charlotte. Charlie meets Charlotte in line at a Krispy Kreme, and soon discovers she’s the sister of his English teacher. That becomes just about as complicated as it sounds, but does Charlie care? No. Because Charlie is adorable. And Charlie is completely fascinated by Charlotte. I loved the way we got to understand the relationship from Charlie’s point of view–how he grew more and more interested in Charlotte, and then fell for her entirely. I wasn’t, though, as sure about the relationship from Charlotte’s side. Because the book is written from Charlie’s point of view, it’s hard to know exactly what Charlotte is thinking, unless she tells us, but I never felt sure of her feelings or motivations. It seemed like maybe she was looking for something she was afraid she might not be able to have, otherwise–an escape–and I ended up feeling unsure whether it was ever about Charlie, at all. I can’t decide whether that’s just my jaded reading of the whole thing, or not. Regardless, Alexander’s prose is lovely, and her characters beyond charming. Charlie’s friends, Greta and James, are dynamic and distinct and downright funny. They’re the kind of best friends everyone hopes for. Charlie’s sister, Becca, has a kind of sweet, tender fragility layered over a deep, quiet strength. I loved her, even if we didn’t see much of her. Even Charlotte’s sister, Ms. Finch, was fantastically complex, and a great adult addition to the story. If there’s anything I would have liked, it’s a little more fleshing out of Charlotte’s side of the relationship, emotionally. I felt like the ending maybe didn’t hit me as hard as I expected it to, because of that. And is it just me, or did we never get an explanation of the breakdown Charlie kept alluding to in his past? In any event, I really enjoyed Love and Other Unknown Variables. I thought the use of mathematical language in the book was extraordinarily clever, and not at all alienating for non-math-geeks. I think readers are likely to fall head-over-heels in love with Charlie, and this book. Favorite Quote: There are many ideas in mathematics that we know are true, even if we’ll never be able to solve them. Too many. They’re the paradoxes that make math so beautiful. Charlotte feels like that. Like a problem I’ll never really figure out, but that I know is just right for me. 4 stars. Definitely a language issue, here. I wanted to read this badly enough that I finished it anyway, despite my usual rule. Readers be warned.
Warning: I feel like it's my duty to warn you that you'll see this book connected and compared to the other cancer book we all have heard of. While the reasons for that are there and the comparison is justified in my opinion, I also want to say that this is not just another TFIOS wannabe, and it's much much more than that. Meet Charlie or I would like to call him one of the sweetest and cutest male character I have ever seen. By those adjectives I don't refer to his looks, but to his character. He is maybe your typical high school nerd, who loves everything science related and somehow believes that it's the only thing he will dedicate his life to (but lets face it we all though that when we discovered things that we were good at). But soon enough someone will show him that life is much more than that and that there are things that he is yet to discover. And all also that you don't necessarily have to be good at something to do it. What counts are lessons that you learn in the process and Charlie learned a lot. Also heck to the author who did an amazing job with writing this book in male POV and boy, did she deliver. Then there is Charlotte, a girl you will grow to love and her wit and quirky sense of humor will make you laugh out loud. She is a fighter, a girl that while experiencing a great deal of injustice from the universe still fights and decides that maybe she can't win the war, but there are always battles to be won. So instead of saying more I'll just make a list. List of things this book made me do: laugh cry laugh out loud (you should consider not reading this when people are around as how can you explain that you're laughing so much with this kind of story?) love (characters, story, life,...) think (about characters, story, life,..) feel (everything) appreciate (books mostly and my decision to be a reader) (and authors, too - for being our heroes who give us stories that we love, without even meeting us first, when some people whom we have met did so little in comparison) give second chance (to the publisher in this case as - Entangled, I regret ever thinking that you only published same old romance stories. I'm sorry.) Finally, I think I want to recommend this book to people who didn't like TFIOS and think that they won't like any other cancer book (I can think of few) as Charlie and his story might surprise you.