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Love and Other Unknown Variables | Book Review

A shot in the heart with intense and unrelenting feels.

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander


Published October 7th 2014 by Entangled: Teen

Pages: 350

Format: eArc

Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4/5 stars

Buy it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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).

In the heart. With feels.

This book will cause you to stare at a wall for three weeks thinking “What did I just read?” It is very John Green-esque but the narration is like Looking for Alaska, the basic plot is like The Fault in Our Stars, and the more detailed plot is like Paper Towns. So a mix of almost all of the John Green books.

Even though the book reminded me of a lot of other books, it was still unique enough that I really enjoyed it.

On Goodreads, I asked the author where the book takes place. I was interested because I knew it was in the south and I also live in the south, so I wanted to know if the book took place near me. This was her response:

While I live in Indiana now, I’m from North Carolina. Charlie lives in a suburb outside of a bigger city. It’s not actually set in any one place, but more of an amalgam of all my favorite places. I’ve lived outside of Charlotte (taught at Quail Hollow Middle School there), outside of Raleigh/Durham, went to UNC-Chapel Hill for a bit, lived in the mountains near Boone, and in Eastern North Carolina in a town called Greenville. I took bits and pieces from each of those and smashed them together for Charlie’s town.

I hope the book captured some of the feelings, sounds, and sights of the south. We don’t have tall pines here like I did back home in North Carolina. I miss them terribly. Writing about them helped bring me back to my old home.

I thought it was cool that she responded to me and I was pleased with the answer!

Charlie Hanson goes to a school for math and science, so he is kind of a nerd. But, that is okay with me because I love math and science so I enjoyed the math talk. I’ve always loved nerdy boys in books and television shows (i.e. I loved Cody, not Zack) because I’m a bit of a nerd myself.

Charlie meets Charlotte. Charlotte is completely different than anyone he has ever met. She is also his english teacher’s younger sister. Charlotte becomes best friends with Charlie’s socially awkward sister so Charlotte and Charlie get to know each other and begin to develop feelings for each other.

Charlotte has something that she is not telling Charlie, and it is a pretty big deal. (You may be able to guess from the Goodreads summary.)

I loved Charlie because he was nerdy and funny, two of my favorite things! When books make me laugh out loud I automatically love them, and this one did just that. Charlie was an amazing narrator because he was hilarious, sensitive, smart, and different. I loved seeming how Charlie tried to impress Charlotte and how after things happened he stayed with her. Charlie was a great narrator, and the book would be nothing without him.

Charlotte reminded me a lot of Alaska from Looking for Alaska. She loved to read and she was the type of girl that you would never forget. She fought a valiant effort to try to save Charlie from pain, as I respected her for that. I liked Charlotte. She wasn’t too aloof or enigmatic like a lot of so called “mysterious” girls that just turn out to be annoying.

My only problem with this book was that it was very similar, almost a mash up of themes and characters of John Green books. I love John’s books so I did like this book, it just straddled the line of being too similar.

I really did like this book. Realistic fiction is my favorite genre by far. I was glad to receive a NetGalley book that I enjoyed because I have had some flops from them! I loved this book so much that I actually bought it in hardback last week (even though I had a free eBook).

Notice how I am not classifying this book as a romance. This is because it was, technically, a romance but it didn’t feel like one. It was about a lot more. I recommend this to anyone who like John Green, especially Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines. It is a bittersweet and realistic romance. I really enjoyed it and I think any realistic fiction fan would too!

Have/will you read this book? Do you like nerdy guys in YA realistic fiction? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below!

Your favorite fangirl,


Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


About Sarah Stevens

I am a teenage girl that reads lots of young adult books. I also watch Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Downton Abbey. I love YA realistic fiction and dystopian books.

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