Way too many girls who love science and math when they’re young, get turned off before high school or, even, middle school. Girls interested in STEM can be particularly hard to find in books, perhaps because so many authors gravitate towards writing and humanities subjects. In high school and college I was surrounded by girls who excelled in math and science, but I rarely saw girls like that reflected in the books I read. I’m really glad that’s changing, and we are getting more and more young adult books featuring girls who love STEM.
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel
After her boyfriend breaks up with her, Sarah expects to spend her summer in Cape Cod attempting to track the Comet Jolie using math. A budding astronomer and math club devotee, Sarah has always felt overshadowed by her popular older sister Scarlett. When she decides to make a change, Sarah uses her scientific know-how to devise a strategy: the Scarlett experiment. Recording hypotheses, observations, and control settings, Sarah starts acting and dressing like her sister to get boys to pay attention to her. It works a little too well, when she meets gorgeous, college boy Andrew. She thinks she might be falling in love, but it’s hard to keep track of what’s real and what’s a lie.
Verdict: Buy. I enjoyed the sweet, and surprising sexy, summer romance and the evolution of Sarah and Scarlett’s sister relationship. Although the science isn’t the story’s main focus, the comet project is present throughout.
This Is My Brain On Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer
Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love, at least not for herself. However, after months of research she believes she’s discovered a formula to make others fall in love. To win the Athenian Award and get a full scholarship to Harvard, Addie’s devised an experiment to prove her theory. Unfortunately, she’s dealing with a potentially backstabbing lab partner and, worse, a very cute new boy who’s making Addie question everything she thinks she knows about love.
Verdict: Borrow. This book has an original premise and is hilarious. However, sometimes I worried the reader was supposed to be laughing at Addie and her hyper-literal mind, instead of with her. Still, I’m glad I read this one. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the moment with the great white shark (you’ll see) or the epic twist near the end.
The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Gottie loves physics and formulas. So when she starts moving back in time, instead of freaking out she turns it into her science project. Just kidding, she definitely freaks out too. She just hopes that along with a good recommendation from her science teacher, her project will help her learn how to stop the time travel. She doesn’t want to keep reliving last summer when her grandfather died. She doesn’t want to remember falling in love with Jason, who barely acknowledges her now. She doesn’t to keep traveling back to the almost-kiss with her best friend Thomas before he moved away. When Thomas moves back, Gottie has even more reasons to want to stay in the present. But she has to figure out a lot about love, grief, and, of course, theoretical math before that can happen.
Verdict: Buy. And then buy another copy for your best friend so you can talk about it. The science in this one is heavy. There are even diagrams involved. While some readers have called the book confusing, I thought the time travel created a brilliant story telling device.