Love and Other Theories
You see that summary up there? It is lying to you. The blurbing of this book does it and the people who will pick it up a vast disservice. The blurb describes Love and Other Theories as a romantic comedy. This is a blatant lie. Love and Other Theories most definitely isn’t a romance and I’d hesitate to call it especially funny. Neither humor nor romance is the point of the novel. The most accurate thing is the heart with pins stuck in it, because that’s how much this book isn’t a romance.
The pins are accurate on two levels actually. First, Aubrey and her friends, according to the theories, don’t believe in love in high school. They don’t want romance. Down with love and down with Cupid. Second, the side effects of the theories, since love isn’t necessarily stoppable, is that sometimes they have to deny their true feelings, which is a heart-stabby pain.
It’s clear very early on that the theories aren’t healthy, and this is very obviously going to be one of the points of the book. There are useful side effects of the theories, like the fact that the girls feel confident approaching boys and comfortable with their sex lives. What’s unhealthy about them is that the girls don’t allow relationships, because no high school boy can be trusted not to move on. I don’t think the theories are any less unhealthy than just about dating manual that someone could pick up for advice, because every relationship is different and there aren’t hard and fast rules that will work. This feels a lot like a YA version of Love by the Book, which I also thought was magnificent.
What I think I like best about Love and Other Theories is how oddly accepting it is for a book that initially seems to be full of a bunch of hateful, judgmental teenagers. The theories are both shown to be wrong, but not entirely condemned. There are good things about them. Though things turn into a real mess because of them, they do make it easier for Aubrey and Nathan to go off to college at the end of the year. It’s somewhat of a coincidence, but it is true that not being tied down into a serious relationship during high school makes college simpler.
Love and Other Theories is mostly about friendship. The girls will seem horrible to start, and I imagine many readers will still hate them when it’s over. I, however, was impressed with the way that things went down. Yes, some really terrible friend things happened, and a fight needed to be had. Ultimately, though, I think Aubrey acknowledges her part in the bad decisions that were made and chooses friendship over boys, which was really the goal of everything all along. The resolutions of the plots with Chiffon and Trip Chapman were also fantastic.
Love and Other Theories is not a book that will work for everyone. It’s realistic, awkward, and doesn’t wrap up into a neat little bow, but I think it’s a great addition to YA.