Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander: ARC Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Love and Other Unknown Variables
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Publication Details: October 7, 2014 by Entangled: Teen
Copy: eBook (PDF) from Entangled through NetGalley

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).

Funny and poignant

Reading the synopsis, I thought it will be just another cliché story. For some aspects that might be the case but folks, I enjoyed reading this book. Really enjoyed it. :)


First that got me into reading this was the title: Love and Other Unknown Variables. I think it's interesting and catchy. True to what the title says, the book conveyed the interrelationship between rationality and irrationality, love being the irrational part and the mathematical equation being the rational part. The book basically tells how both logic and emotional, IQ and EQ, make a person. How both are necessary to connect to oneself and to others. I don't know why but I love reading stories about logical characters coming in to terms with their emotional side. Haha!

The subjects in the book include cancer, mathematics, literature and art. Completely different subjects, but they were interwoven together to create this beautiful story. A story about life in its final journey, about love blossoming in the final leg of life, a story of opening up and embracing both the logical and emotional part of one's whole being.

Charlie Hanson reminded me of Dr. Addy in the TV series Bones. Though Charlie is way better. Haha! He's a genius and demands logic and organization in everything. While he is so advanced in the math and science department, he's way behind the social and emotional department. I liked how his character developed as his involvement with Charlotte progressed. I also liked how his relationship with Becca changed, as well as his relationship with Mrs. Dunwitty.

Charlotte Finch. I can see Alaska Young (Looking for Alaska) and Margo (Paper Towns) in her. She brought out the majority of Charlie's development and Becca's. She's smart and talented. And though she has a courageous façade, I liked that her vulnerability can still be seen.

Ms. Jo Finch. I liked how she never gives up, not only to her sister but also to her Brighton students. I loved her dedication and her strength to continue with her life even though she is constantly worrying about her sister.

Becca. Like her brother, she's also a genius but literary-wise. I wish I have her brain. Haha! Anyway, her character development was also evident as Charlotte also touched her life. I liked how Becca came out of her shell, how she let herself be found by Charlotte. I loved her relationship with her brother, Charlie, how they found strengths in each other.

Mrs. Dunwitty. Though a minor character, I believe she also played a big part in Charlie's development. I think she was the one who pushed Charlie to take the big leap towards "emotions".

Greta and James. A very cute couple! They are great friends of Charlie, caring for him and supporting him in his endeavors. I liked that their relationship is deep and really based on love. They may have competitive streaks but friendship and love come first.

The story was told in Charlie's POV. And while usually I need to know the other's POVs as well, I felt like in this one, Charlie's was enough. My reading never got boring because of the humorous yet thought-provoking way the story was told.

I liked the style of writing because of the balanced play of logic and emotions. Overall the scenes clearly showed Charlie's character development. As I've said before, some aspects may not be really unique but nevertheless LaOUV is an inspiring and humorous read.

I really enjoyed reading this book. My rating is 0.5 short because I couldn't understand some technical terms (Haha!). But I'd recommend it to anyone wanting a good YA stand-alone about life and love.

photo by Katie Williams
from author's website
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family (Source: Entangled Publishing).