Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Love & Other Theories"

Aubrey ("Brey") Housing, the narrator of a deeply perceptive novel by Chicoan Alexis Bass (, will soon be saying goodbye to Lincoln High. She'll be going to a prestigious university but now the voice of her BFF, the achingly beautiful Shelby Chesterfield, is ringing in her head: "Now that you’ve been accepted into Barron, you need to join the rest of us and get a real life. It’s your senior year, Brey, time for you to party it up."

It's also a time navigating the emotional uprisings brought on by the ever-fluid hookups with boys at the school, to sort out who is friend and who is foe among the girls, and to decide how important any of this is. "Love & Other Theories" ($9.99 in paperback from HarperTeen, recommended for ages 14 and up; also for Amazon Kindle) traces the breakdown of all that Aubrey thinks is secure within her heart.

Aubrey and her friends have part-time jobs "that produce at least enough money to pay for stuff our parents wouldn't approve of. Booze. Cigarettes. Birth control. Brazilian bikini waxes." Brey, Shelby, and Danica and Melissa, have got each other's back.

Then strangely attractive Nathan Diggs transfers to Lincoln and sits near her. "In all honesty, I'm uncomfortable. I stay perfectly still, though, because it's against everything I believe in to show how physically altered I feel just because of a boy."

Enter "the theories." Since "the only thing we needed to know about high school boys and love (was) how you couldn't have both, we could have anyone we wanted. If you want more, you have to give less. This logic seemed backward compared to the you-get-what-you-give crap we'd always heard, but it worked."
Sex? Momentary fun, that's all (Aubrey had lost her virginity to Trip Chapman; but no commitment.) In fact, "it's only a matter of weeks (two weeks is the average dating cycle at Lincoln High) before he'll get distracted by someone else."

All theories need testing and Aubrey finds she may not be as "evolved" as she thinks. Yet the last words of this emotionally sensitive novel inspire confidence that she finally understands the real meaning of "goodbye."

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