I received a copy from Netgalley.
I snagged a copy of this one when it was a Read it Now on Netgalley. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I wound up enjoying this book. Early on I very nearly DNFed, the concept just wasn’t getting through to me, and I found Eva’s young siblings incredibly annoying. As the novel progresses, the depth of the two main characters and emotional connection between them was pretty amazing.
Eva is math genius. She has a bizarre condition (possibly as a result of a car accident when she was a baby) where when she touches people, she can see patterns in the form of mathematical fractals that tell her things about people. She can see feelings in the form of colourful mathematical patterns that show her emotions about a person. She can learn things about someone by a touch. Which makes her very uncomfortable about touching people. With a gift like that you never know what you’re going learn. It’s understandably quite scary. And beyond uncomfortable to have this happen every time you accidentally touch another person.
She has a best friend, Charlotte, but doesn’t really interact with other people much. She lives with her mum and dad, her dad is a Pastor for a local church, and she has four quadruplet siblings all of whom are very young, very lively (and very very annoying at least to this reader). Eva makes some money by offering to tutor kids failing in math.
One of the guys she tutors is popular sports star Josh whom her BFF Charlotte has an epic crush on. There’s a sweet little side plot about Eva fixing the two of them up. Which turns out to have a not so great impact on their friendship when the fix up is a success.
The second guy she tutors is moody but very hot artist Zenn. Zenn and Eva connect pretty well. They find themselves getting to know each other a bit more, helped along by an incident where Eva decides the church van her family drives needs repainting - Zenn is an artist. Zenn agrees to repaint the van. Zenn’s a really good artist.
As they get to know each other and Eva’s feelings deepen, at the same time she’s dealing with her friendship with Charlotte deteriorating. Now she’s dating Josh, Charlotte is instantly more popular than she’s ever been and doesn’t really seem to have much time for Eva anymore. There’s still conversation, but it’s sparse and not as frequent and they’re not hanging out or having lunch together as much as usual. Eva’s naturally disappointed but at the same time this allows her the opportunity to spend more time with Zenn.
Eva and Charlotte’s friendship is actually very well written and quite realistic, it’s not all over the top drama, there’s a certain amount of emotional turmoil, but also some really sweet bits as well.
Likewise with Eva’s growing relationship with Zenn. They take time exploring their feelings, Eva gets to know Zenn’s home situation which isn’t all that great. Parents divorced, Dad just come out of long term prison sentence, Mom is an alcoholic who goes from bad boyfriend to bad boyfriend. The mom was actually quite nice but not very bright.
Both are struggling with decisions of what to do after high school. Zenn doesn’t really see much option other than to work to support his mom who can’t really take care of herself, while Eva wants to go to college. But with four small children and herself, Eva knows money is tight, and unless she can get a scholarship or something, her MIT dreams are just that – a dream. As fun as the flirting and growing romance is with Zenn they have some serious discussions as well.
There’s a really surprising twist as well which impacts both Eva and Zenn’s parents greatly. Which also has a big consequence for Eva and Zenn as well, but they both have to decide whether they love each other enough to get past it. Eva’s touch ability works differently with Zenn as well, opening her to sensations and experiences she never thought she would have. It’s not all swoony romance, there’s some pretty serious drama.
A really excellent contemporary YA. I would definitely read another book by this author.
Thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press.