Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander
Don’t you hate it when the cover of a book compares the book to Fault in Our Stars?
So let’s start in the middle of the book, when Charlie, boy genius with an MIT future, finds out the Charlotte, his sister’s best friend, has brain cancer, with a very limited future. Now let’s also say that this funny, witty, story of two improbably matched teens finding love, is worth reading, even when we know the ending.
Charlie is very uncomfortable with real feelings, and recites the prime numbers, or the Table of Elements to keep his mind from wandering into uncomfortable territory. Charlotte’s sister, Ms Finch, is the new English teacher at Brighton, Charlie’s exclusive math and science school. There have been many new English teachers. In fact, Brighton students are experts with the game of making English teachers leave school, crying. Ms Finch says she knows this- to “bring it on.” Charlotte, interestingly, is also encouraging Charlie to do this, as it will keep her sister occupied trying better lesson plans, rather than harangue her into getting an experimental cancer treatment.
How much control do we/should we have over our lives, especially in facing the end?
Are you the kind of person who will “never give up,” or one who one who thinks teens should manage their own treatment?
That is the real question in this witty, charming, and yes, tear-jerking novel. Makes for a great teen discussion with parents.