Review of The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss, by Amy Noelle Parks

The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss

by Amy Noelle Parks

Amulet Books, 2020. 361 pages.
Review written August 27, 2021, from a book purchased via
Starred Review
2022 Mathical Book Prize Honor Book, Grades 9-12

An adorable teen romance about a girl who’s a math genius, which always scores points for me.

Caleb has almost kissed his best friend Evie Beckham fourteen times. One of those times, when they were thirteen, he told her what he wanted to do, and she was not onboard. So he has been careful ever since not to let her know.

Almost four years ago, Evie talked him into applying to Newton Academy, a selective math and science boarding school. Caleb was surprised when he was accepted, but knew it was the right place for Evie. At Newton, he has watched guys try to ask Evie out, while she has shown no interest whatsoever.

But in their senior year, a new kid named Leo has come to Newton Academy. He gets Evie’s attention by being nearly as good at physics as she is, and Caleb is horrified when they start dating.

Caleb is still Evie’s best friend, though, and he knows how to help when she has an attack of social anxiety. Last year, Evie wasn’t able to cope with giving a presentation when her paper was accepted to the Frontier awards. So this year, she plans to do a project with Caleb. She’ll do the math, and he’ll do the coding.

This book maintains a wonderful balance of describing their high-level project while keeping the reader interested in the relationships. We alternate between Evie’s and Caleb’s perspectives and wonder if she’ll ever wake up to how her best friend feels about her.

The author is an associate professor of mathematics and I love that she can write such a relatable teen romance. I also appreciate that it’s the heroine who’s the star math student. The book does show many underestimating her because she’s female. There’s also some stereotyping of the mentally ill math genius, but since Evie is fighting against that stereotype – even coming from her own mother, it adds to the story instead of detracting. Evie takes her mental health into her own hands and throughout the book, we see her coping with her social anxiety in positive and helpful ways.

I confess – this book kept me reading into the small hours of the morning. Too much fun to stop!

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