About This Book:
A debut YA rom-com about smart girls, love-struck boys, and quantum theory
Seventeen-year-old Evie Beckham has always been too occupied with her love of math and frequent battles with anxiety to want to date. Besides, she’s always found the idea of kissing to be kind of weird. But by senior year, thanks to therapy and her friends, she’s feeling braver than before. Maybe even brave enough to enter the national math and physics competition or flirt back with the new boy. Meanwhile, Evie’s best friend, Caleb Covic, has always been a little in love with her. So he’s horrified when he is forced to witness Evie’s meet-cute with the new guy. Desperate, Caleb uses an online forum to capture Evie’s interest—and it goes a little too well. Now Evie wonders how she went from avoiding romance to having to choose between two—or is it three?—boys.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST-KISS is a delightful YA STEM-themed romance. Evie and Caleb have been BFFs since they were five. Now that they are teens, they attend the same boarding school together for teens who are gifted in mathematics, physics, programming, and engineering. Evie has trouble connecting with other people, in no small part because of her social anxiety and panic attacks, which are under control with cognitive-behavioral therapy. They have long been exacerbated by the horrible and intense bullying she experienced at past schools - though luckily, that is not the same at the current school. She may also be on the spectrum of neurodivergence, as she has trouble reading and understanding people's emotions.
Although many boys have seemed interested in Evie, she has not found herself romantically interested in any of them - until Leo, the new boy who is also gifted with mathematics like Evie. Caleb has been in love with Evie for as long as he can remember, but she has not been interested in anything but their whole-hearted friendship and deep understanding. Caleb is the most important person in her life, but she is starting to understand the desire for physical romantic connections with the feelings she gets from Leo. Told in both Evie and Caleb's points-of-view, we follow them during an eventful year of romances and pining, where they also attempt to win a major prize that could change their futures.
What I loved: I really love the perspectives on STEM, toxic family, and deep friendships (Caleb and Bex). As a female in mathematics, Evie experiences prejudice from teachers and adults that force her to have to prove her abilities - something that would not happen if she was a boy. This theme was really well woven throughout the book with Evie's experiences and mentioned regarding other classmates who experience similar prejudices not being white. A lot of the book takes place internally, and I felt that this really brought both Evie and Caleb to life, as well as expounded on internal struggles so well.
The romance is definitely the focus of the book, and there is a lot of related angst and tension. I actually really enjoyed the journey and was captivated by the story and the will-they-won't-they vibes. The perspectives and writing really pull the reader in and keep the book flowing well. The addition of the competition was a great way to bring them all together.
I also really appreciated that the book shows the importance of therapy through some of Evie's sessions and her reflections. This also gives her the courage to tackle problems with her toxic family, particularly her mother whose controlling and single-minded sentiments could have dangerous consequences. The boundaries that Evie creates for herself with the aid of her therapist set a good example.
Final verdict: This book is ultimately a charming friends-to-more, STEM-themed YA contemporary romance. Recommend for fans of THE CODE FOR LOVE AND HEARTBREAK, THE KISS QUOTIENT, and FOUR DAYS OF YOU AND ME.
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