The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss | ARC Review

Published: January 5th 2021

Pages: 368

Format: eBook (ARC)

Tags: Young Adult, Romance, Mental Health/Neurodivese, Science-Mathematics, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

| Synopsis from the Publisher |

Seventeen-year-old Evie Beckham has never been interested in dating. She’s been fully occupied by her love of mathematics and her frequent battles with anxiety (and besides, she’s always found the idea of kissing to be a little bit icky). But with the help of her best friend and her therapist, Evie’s feeling braver. Maybe even brave enough to enter a prestigious physics competition and to say yes to the new boy who’s been flirting with her.

Caleb Covic knows Evie isn’t ready for romance but assumes that when she is, she will choose him. So Caleb is horrified when he is forced to witness Evie’s meet cute with a floppy-haired, mathematically gifted transfer student. Because Caleb knows the girl never falls for the funny best friend when there’s a mysterious stranger around, he decides to use an online forum to capture Evie’s interest. Now, he’s got Evie wondering if it’s possible to fall in love with a boy she’s never met.

| Book Review |

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Describing This Book in Adjectives: Character-Centered, Contemporary, Romantic

This book is that quintessential friends-to-lovers story, told from alternating perspectives. Caleb’s been in love with Evelyn since they were pre-teens, but unfortunately his love has been unrequited. Thankfully, they are closer than close, due to Evelyn’s struggles with mental health and the fact that she finds Caleb safe and comforting, so he can remain by her side, but when she finally starts showing interest in dating…it’s with someone who isn’t him. This story is story is character-driven, giving the reader a up-close perspective on the minds of both Caleb and Evelyn. It’s a very contemporary novel, set in a boarding school, and the romance will definitely have you turning the pages.

I fell in love with these characters. Caleb is such a compelling guy character! He has many facets outside of being in love with Evelyn – he’s a computer coder, he plays baseball, and he is hilarious. I loved each of his chapters, he has such a unique perspective. I particularly enjoyed any of his conversations with Bex, Evelyn’s best friend, who is now my new favorite literary character. To give you an example of the genius writing and character development, here is just a few exchanges from them:

When I come up behind her, she turns, yelps, and swats my arm. “Don’t run up behind women on the street, you idiot.”

Bex to Caleb

I grin. Bex loves her little projects. She shoves me with her shoulder.

“Don’t smile at me in that patronizing way. Someday, when your children look out into the ocean and see nothing but a mountain of plastic, you’re going to wish you came to these meetings with me.

“My children will live in the Midwest. They’ll never see the ocean.”

Bex to Caleb

“I know this is hard.”

“Well, gravity is doing most of the work right now.”

“Oh, you tragic clown,” she says pityingly.

Bex to Caleb

As we’re walking, I say, “You look lovely as well, Bex”

“Close your eyes!” she says with such authority that I do. To avoid injury, I also stop moving.

“What color am I wearing?” she asks, a smile in her voice.

I have no clue. It’s a pretty formal event though. “Black?”

“Open,” she says.

Her dress is bright orange.

“Save your compliments for when you mean them.”

Bex to Caleb

Aren’t they awesome! These exchanges are many and it’s one of the main reasons why I love the book so much. That and the changes in perspective help to keep the story moving forward. I ended up finishing this book quite quickly and I think this is a main reason for that. The pacing is very steady and there’s never a dull moment.

There is also a really strong element of feminism in here, but it’s put in a way that I like best – through action, rather than just from character statements. It’s never preachy. Evelyn is a mathematic genius among her already academically accomplished peers, yet she often faces sarcasm and condescension (and bullying in her childhood) for being a “smart girl.” She is often dismissed by her male teachers because math and physics are typically male-dominated fields and she is unwelcome there. Still, she continues to persevere and show that she is not to be trifled with and I like this about her.

Added to this fact, she struggles with anxiety and phobias that make it difficult for her to navigate life, especially school life. Caleb is one of the only people she feels she can trust intrinsically a this dynamic is one of the things that makes their relationship both complicated and interesting. Evelyn also has to deal with her mother’s worries about her, which stem from her own belief that mathematicians and mental illness are intrinsically linked. There are a lot of really good passages in this book about the importance of therapy (as opposed to just treating everything with medication) and about metal illness in general. Evelyn is a really good example of a strong female character: she loves math, she knows when to ask for help if she needs it, but she can stand up for herself, and she can see that her therapy is helping her be able to stand on her own, which leads her to take on challenges, even if they’re scary for her. She’s a really inspiring character.

Like most YA romances, the ending is tied up nicely and is pretty swoon-worthy. But I think what makes this book stand out so much from others in the genre is its strong cast of characters (both main and secondary), and the writing. The dialogue in particular stands out as really unique and compelling. This is one smart romance and it promotes women in STEAM, which is a huge plus!

Read Alikes:

| My Rating |

My New Favorite Thing

This book is just so awesome. I know I want to purchase a personal copy of it, because I’m definitely going to read it again and again. I’m going to keep coming back for the characters, the humor, and the feel-good romance of it. In many ways, this book is so pure. The love is true and the characters are honest and emotionally well-adjusted. It’s a real fee-good book!

I’ll definitely be recommending this book to readers looking for an easy, character-driven, contemporary romance.

4 thoughts on “The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss | ARC Review

  1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the book! I’m the first person on my library’s waitlist for it and I can’t wait to check it out. It sounds like such a sweet read. The little excepts you included have me thinking I’m going to really enjoy it because I love romances with funny banter.

    Liked by 1 person

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