In this debut novel about love and coming-of-age, Alexander explores the heartbreaking themes of first love, illness, attachment and loss.
Teenage Charlie has life down to a science. A math and science whiz, his life is certain and exact, until he encounters a year that turns things upside down. A new cast of characters enters Charlie’s life, beginning with the new English teacher in town, Ms. Finch, who is tall, young, beautiful and eccentric. With her, Charlie and his classmates have to learn to bend their notions of literature’s irrelevance and begin to explore the right sides of their brains. Along with this new challenge comes Charlotte, a mysterious friend of Charlie’s sister, Becca, who appears at his home one afternoon and steals his heart. Charlie’s attraction for Charlotte grows, but so does his realization that Charlotte needs something more than a swooning teenage boy in her life—she needs a friend, and a loyal one. The author spins this tale in colorful language that grips the reader from the start. Each character is vividly described with images and sounds that hang in the mind: “perfect donut” mouths, calf-hugging skinny jeans, smirks, blinks and clever dialogue. Within the first few chapters, readers will be captivated by this eclectic group of young souls who are desperately trying to understand life, love, literature and their own futures. Readers will appreciate Alexander’s poetic style, her mastery of tension, and the use of concrete imagery to depict the angst, passion and confusion these characters feel about the unknowns of leaving for college in a year. In one scene, Greta and James, friends of Charlie, discuss the fact that the crew may be split up after graduation. Charlie lovingly responds, “A year is a long time...twelve months, fifty-two weeks, three hundred sixty-five days, eight thousand seven hundred sixty hours.” The characters’ quirky affinities—Charlie’s for math, Charlotte’s for drawing, Ms. Finch’s for literature—paint a world of passion and personality.
A heartwarming YA story of love and entering the unknown territories of adulthood.