Every Variable of Us follows a young black woman, Lex, who is trying to get out of her bad home life by getting a basketball college scholarship. After she is injured in a drive-by shooting, she is unable to play and finds herself in the unlikely position of being invited to join the school's STEM team by a new student Aamani.
As their friendship grows, Lex realises she has romantic feelings for Aamani and struggles to come to terms with her queerness. This book addresses many issues: racism in America, poverty, addiction, gang violence and homophobia. It does so very well and this book is a great read for both young adults and adults as well.
I found it a little slow to start and it took me a while to get into it, but by the end I was really rooting for Lex and Aamani.
Every Variable of Us is such a unique YA novel. It's set in Philly and follows Alexis, a teenager injured in a gang shooting. When her dreams of a college scholarship and pro basketball career vanish with the shot of a gun, she decides to join her school's STEM team. This is where she meets her new mentor and crush, although the pull of her former life gets harder to ignore.
This book is at times humorous, at others raw and heartbreaking. The first chapter is designed to pull readers in and the rest of the book continues at the same fast pace. Alexis is an interesting and flawed main character and I empathised with her struggle with her identity as she realises she may be queer. Her character development is great and she's surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters too.
If you enjoy YA coming-of-age novels that don't shy away from topical current issues, check out Every Variable Of Us. It's honest, thought-provoking and ultimately heartwarming. Also, don't miss Bush's author's note.
This was a very stunning and important debut from Charles Bush. I really enjoyed the story and the struggles of the main character felt very real and flushed out. Highly recommend.
Thank you to Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
the storyline was interesting but the contemporary writing style was not for me. the main romance was adorable though.
A really powerful story about perserverance! I loved following along Alexis' story and seeing her relationship with Aamani blossom. I think this is such a crucial story for young black queer teens, especially if they are interested in sports!
"For all the queer Black kids scared of not being accepted: you belong, and you have it in you to and do anything."
Alexis is injured in a gang shooting, which crushes her dreams of a college scholarship and pro basketball career which was her chance to get out of her poverty-stricken neighborhood, and her drug-addicted mother. But, here comes Aamani Chakrabarti, (the new Indian student) who becomes her mentor.....
Initially, I was thrown off by the Islamophobia and xenophobia in the book. Almost everything about it was too stereotypical, and I found it uncomfortable to read. But it got better, thankfully.
"It's a bit elitist to group culture and religion together based solely on the way someone looks. That's the very definition of discrimination."
I came to enjoy the character development, diversity and representation, love the pop culture references that had me howling, and Queerness/being queer in the Black community.
"I have it hard enough being Black in America, let alone Black and bi. People around here clown queer people because they don't understand it - shit like pause and having to say no homo after everything."
Love the entire STEM members and the way they all grew to form a loving friendship among themselves and help each other grow. I did learn a few things from these smart kids too 😅. The author did amazing writing on this part.
Aamani is my favorite character. But I loved seeing Alexis grow, make better life decisions for herself and rely on others.
This book handled a lot of heavy themes, which I do not feel I can really comment on, but I do think they were handled respectfully and honestly. I loved that it featured athletes and f/f romance, but I just struggled to fully connect at times. Overall, I did enjoy the story and think it is a book that most people would really love.
The premise of this book seemed very promising. I certainly loved the diversity and the enemies to lovers trope. Unfortunately the book ended up falling flat for me, the writing seemed a bit clanky and I found it very hard to connect to the main character due to the prejudiced view of the world that she seems to have. Overall I'm sure this book would be enjoyable for someone that likes a true hate to love storyline.
Can I just scream and shout my undying love for Aamani? Because I love her!
This book made me sob… Like a lot. Over and over.
But then it also made me feel so may other things that my stomach felt warm and fuzzy and I wanted something like what Lex has with her new friends.
I cannot express how much I love happy endings that aren’t fully and outrageously unreal and unhappy but just what the characters deserved and needed.
Lex went through SOO much. She deserved every win she received. Even when everything was ripped from her hands she worked for what she needed. She worked for what she wanted because she knew she could. She wanted more than to just survive.
Each character was written so beautifully and was very complex while also being heartbreakingly accurate. Teens are very ignorant while claiming to be “woke” they say ignorant things while believing that they aren’t being harmful because they themselves are a minority but Bush helps these characters learn and grow so well.
I was so proud to read about Lex’s character growth and her redemption, I felt like a big sister.
if there’s ever talk about an Every Variable of Us movie. I want to play Lex please and thank you!
♤ review: it was hard for me to get through this book because it showed the brutal truth so nicely. This is a great diversed book - with a black main character and a desi love interest.
It shows the world exactly how it's and i could never relate to alexis's situation. I felt for her character and i know she's gonna stay with me for a long time.
The book had kept me hooked, and this was one of the book i read long ago but couldn't forget about it. I loved the interactions between the characters and loved how the plot was laid out. Though harsh, i really liked it wasn't filtered.
I am so happy i got to read this one and you should too.
♡ thanks to @pridebooktours for the copy!
I requested this book because the blurb sounded great. I love queer YA. I loved the strong voice of the main character, Lex. I wish I could say I loved this book, but I stopped reading it at 7%. I cannot continue due to the Islamophobic and fatphobic comments made in the first chapter.
The blatant Islamophobia towards Aamani was hard to read and then I find out that this is supposed to be the love interest? I love character growth but that's a LONG way to go. There is so little representation of Islamic, Desi, and queer in young adult fiction and this book could have helped with that representation. Having readers must wade through the racism is asking a lot. The author could have shown a great amount of disdain towards Aamani due to her calling attention to Lex's shoplifting.
The first scene includes a scene with a police officer pursuing the main character. I agree with the points the author makes about the police (Like why the police officer is pulling a gun on a teenager shoplifting a pizza?) However, the fat-phobic language used about the police officer was unnecessary. Fat should not be used to make a character look "bad" or "incompetent," and that’s how the author used it in this context. Fat should be a descriptor without value. Instead, the author relied on harmful stereotypes about fat people such as them being out-of-shape or eating donuts. There are fat folks who are in great shape and would have been able to keep up with Lex. There are small-bodied folks who love donuts. Someone's body size should not be a decider in whether they receive dignity.
First of all, I want to thank Pride Book Tours and the author for a gifted e-copy.
I really enjoyed this book! The writing style was very easy to read and many controversial topics were addressed. There were many diverse characters, and there was a lot of character development, especially with Alexis. At the beginning she had a lot of issues, but she managed to overcome most in a very believable way. I read a lot of people complaining about the excessive use of pop culture references, but I personally didn’t mind that at all. It made the story more fun and seemed to fit the characters, especially Aamani, who was, by the way, probably my favourite.
Every Variable of Us is an intense read that covers a lot of important and current topics, Despite being completely up my alley, I struggled to stay invested in the story. I read the first 20% of this in January and only just read the remainder earlier tonight, and I did skim several chapters. The characters felt a little hollow to me and whilst the plot was clear and succinct but I feel like there was a lot more telling rather than showing for the most part. I did enjoy this and am glad I read it but it wasn't a great book for me.
This is an OwnVoices review as I'm Indian, Hindu and Queer.
I think that every human being in this world, irrespective of their differences, has one thing in common with the others of their kin, hope. When life is not the way one wants, there is still hope. When everything is going the way they want, there is hope that it'll stay the same. There is hope of doing better, of being better, and achieving great things. But what does one do when all that hope is taken away from you in just a fraction of seconds? When everything you've ever worked for, hoped for, is snatched away from you and you're left with naught? Alexis Duncan's story talks about this.
A Philly teen who is surrounded by things she wants to get away from: her drug-addict mother, a place where shootings are normal and black people always live under the threat of being shot by the cops, Alexis has one clear goal in her life: Play basketball and get the scholarship which will take her away from all of this mess to a better life. However, in one unfortunate accident, she loses everything, her dream of the scholarship as well as her life with basketball. She is left with absolutely nothing. There is no hope.
Until, Hope shows itself in the form of Aamani Chakrabarti, the desi girl who has just moved from New Jersey and joins Alexis's school. At first, she is a victim of racism from all of Alexis's friends, but she proves her worth with her intelligence and wit. When Alexis is lost, she lights up the path showing Alexis there's so much she can still do, and makes her join the STEM team. Of course, studying and giving quizzes is not everyone's cup of tea either, and maybe it was just Alexis's fate that supported her so she could do good in it, but Alexis finds herself going from the person who hated on people who studied to a person who studied everything herself. With Aamani, she finds herself and her hope again.
I really liked the writing and the plot of the book, but having read a similar one before, it didn't take me by surprise because I knew how the story was going to turn out. As an OwnVoices reviewer who is Hindu and Indian, I'd like to point out that the author did a very good job with the research about the culture and shaped Aamani's character perfectly. I would, however, also like to point out that maybe the movie "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo" was probably chosen at random but most of us Indians don't like the movie at all because of how boring it is so I was really surprised when Aamani mentioned it's her favourite.
As a queer OwnVoices reviewer, I really liked the queer rep as well. I appreciate that the author kept all the characters real because seeing unaccepting parents in books helps me in a way so I feel like I'm not alone. Of course, it is heartwarming to see parents accepting their queer children but it is very uncommon amongt desi people. So when I saw that it takes a lot of time for Aamani's parents to accept her and in the end they never really do, I felt seen. I felt that maybe I'm not the only one. Not going to lie, seeing parents go from strong homophobia to accepting and loving and researching their kid's sexuality the very next day also seems very fake.
I also loved the insight to the side characters' lives and how other people's lives are not the ways they appear to us.
Now, to the parts I didn't like:
1. There is a part in the book that has implied sex between the characters when a third character is sleeping in other bed in the same room. While acts like this are okay when all the parties are consenting, this was without the consent of the third character and felt off.
2. "Not to mention, all that primping just to impress the guys-" Alexis says this when she is describing how she does not dress up or behave like other girls and while the girls around her might be the type to be dressing up for guys, I felt that this comment was unnecessary because girls don't actually dress up for men.
3. "some bread that she uses to pick up the most disgusting-looking food ever" this sentence comes in when Alexis is describing Aamani having lunch alone and while this was cleared out later and the food was properly named, I didn't like this form of blatant racism. This only shows that if someone fell in love with an Indian and they were racist before the "falling in love" part, they would think of us like this.
4. "damn, you girls take the me too shit too seriously" was a line said by a guy when a girl probably denied kissing him if i remember correctly. me too is a very serious topic and deserves to be taken seriously.
5. Aamani was described as the "Hindu Girl" many times in the book and I mean, there's more to her than just being Hindu? it was just very weird.
6. The lines said by Aamani in hindi were clearly translated because we don't speak Hindi like that, but I appreciate the author's gesture.
7. The play on the court is supposed to get you hyped, not a group of identically dressed PG-13 strippers" this was said for the cheerleaders BY a former basketball player and it's very wrong. Cheerleading is and will always be a sport too, and the way they dress is a part of their art and there is nothing wrong with it. Nothing they do is ground for calling them a "stripper".
8. "Kids over there get rocket launchers and shit at, like, ten" was said by a drug dealer about how brown people are supposedly "terrorists" and kids own a gun. This was inherently racist and nobody addressed it or corrected him. While I know that no one would want to mess with a drug dealer, I don't appreciate it.
Overall, the story was enjoyable but not very interesting to me, and my rating is solely based on the writing style and the representation included.
First Impressions: we are presented with a flawed character who seems to care about the decisions she makes and how they could jeopardize her future yet still she continues as to not seem soft to the people in her hood.
Alexis is on her way to a basketball scholarship out of her neighborhood surrounded by drug use and violence. Until she gets caught up in a drive by that changes all of that. Now she's surrounded by self proclaimed nerds trying to compete to win a STEM bowl, academic trivia competition. Alexis doesn’t wanna get clowned on by her friends on the block for studying and putting effort into school to get better at the STEM bowl but the nerds all grow on her and she’s taught what real friendship encompasses. She also deals with internalized homophobia, because she doesn’t want another target on her back. She grows immensely by the end of the book & its a happy ending despite all the sadness that came before it.
This is a great book to explain generational poverty and systemic oppression. It also shows how often the only visual social mobility for poor Black people sadly tends to boil down to become an athlete or drug dealer. Resulting in this “only way out” mentality that is extremely difficult to escape, as we see for our MC Alexis. It also tackles how queerness & Blackness is percieved and how internalized homophobia presents itself.
Authors often share their thoughts at the end of contemporary YA novels, explaining why the issues were important to them and the inspiration for their writing. It's interesting that Charles A Bush chose to share those thoughts at the beginning of Every Variable of Us. The reader knows, from the outset, to expect depictions of racism, homophobia, poverty and crime from the onset but they also understand why he wrote this novel.
Every Variable of Us is one of the most gritty novels I've read in years. It goes places The Hate U Give didn't dare to tread and explores the life of a severely underprivileged Philly teenager as she experiences the loss of her future and navigates her sexuality.
Alexis Duncan is a star basketball player on her way to a college scholarship. Rising above her mother's drug addiction and a life in and out of foster homes, Alexis is set to escape the confines of her upbringing and become a superstar. That is until she is shot in a gang shooting. Barely able to walk properly, Alexis needs to explore other options for college admission, and fast, before she becomes another statistic.
Alexis makes the shocking (to her) discovery that sports is not the only way to get college scholarships and she joins the school STEM team as a reserve. Has she got what it takes to go from jock to swot? More importantly, who is the enigmatic Aamani Chakrabarti and why is Alexis developing feelings for her?
I related on so many levels to this novel and it might help to explain why. I spent time in care and absolutely thought I had no future after school until I was made aware of the possibility of a scholarship to university which changed my life. The descriptions of poverty, neglect, parental drug abuse, the contradictory experience in care homes, and living on the street were especially authentic in Every Variable of Us and very well researched. The chaos that Alexis experienced on an every day basis is a chaos that is familiar to many children living in poverty.
Bush also explores life in gangs and the allure and often inevitability of gang membership amongst deprived teens. While Every Variable of Us is about Alexis and Aamani, it is also about Britt, Alexis's best friend who shared Alexis's past but not her future.
Every Variable of Us features a diverse range of characters including a Black sports girl protagonist, bisexual and gay teens, a Muslim girl and a neurodivergent boy. I appreciated seeing underprivileged teens on page as books often focus on unattainably privileged and wealthy teens.
It wasn't always easy to read Every Variable of Us and this is why Bush's foreword was especially well placed. With on-page racism and homophobia, including significant slurs, I had to stop and think whether these words were appropriate in this novel. I feel that the depictions were realistic and that characters displayed character growth in moving on from these positions, or moving on from those who continued to hold them.
I give Every Variable of Us a superb five out of five stars and recommend to fans of Angie Thomas, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Brandy Colbert. I cannot wait to see what Bush writes next.
“I don’t care about why our hands are touching, or how oxytocin works. I don’t even care that there are some serious gay vibes floating around right now. All I care about is figuring out a way to make her never let go.”
This book deals with very real life situations, the characters felt real and raw and at times it was painful to read and feel their pain. The author did and amazing job helping me see through the eyes of the characters. Somehow through the pain this book was equally full of hope and laugh out loud moments and a few seriously embarrassing teenage antics. There is also a new and beautiful queer love story between the main characters (that I low key lived for) But I would say equally important was the friendship between a new group of friends which is one of the best found families I have read in a long time!
Did not finish after 20%.
The book was interesting, but it was heavy, and I am not in the space for that.
Alexis has a lot going on, and her only way out is a basketball scholarship - until it isn't. Aamani is new, and interesting, even if she is kind of a nerd. What is it about her?
I know this story would be good, but with mentions of gun violence, drug abuse, theft, poverty, and more, I am not in a space to read it.
Thank you @pridebooktours @fluxbooks & @charles_a_bush for sending me a copy of ‘Every Variable of Us’ for an honest review.
Alexis ‘Lex’ Duncan is your average high school student, until something happens which jeopardises her future of hoping for a basketball scholarship, she has to find a way of stopping herself becoming another black teen trapped in her poverty-stricken neighbourhood. The only way she thought how is to join the school’s STEM team, a group of ‘nerds’ seeking their own college scholarships. Being motivated by Aamani, the new Indian student at the school, she finds that academics never had been her strong point but the more she focus, Alexia begins to see herself much more than an athlete. She also starts to see Aamani as much more than a mentor and more of a crush.
I honestly loved this book so much! From the first page, to the very end I was drawn into the story which Charles drew out. Lex is so believable. Even though the majority of the things she goes through I have never experienced myself, I still felt some connection to some of the things she was going through. She grows so much throughout the book, even though sometimes she can’t give up on what has happened in the past and things draw her back to the life before the STEM team. There was even a time I was shouting at her not to do it! She really spent most of the novel really trying to find her true identity.
I loved the chemistry between Lex and Aamani, you could tell from the beginning that it would develop into something so sweet and loving. But then at the same time I also loved the dynamic and the relationship between the STEM group, each person had their own important reason to have a bit of their story told in this novel and each one fitted into the group perfectly.
It was hard to read at times, some really heartbreaking moments, but also such positivity, to show that you can change your life if you just believe you can. And that you do not need to hide who you are!
I’m so glad I got to read this, and I think it’s already one of my favourites for the year. It will definitely be sticking with me for a long time to come!
How did you do in school? I’d like to think I was a pretty okay student. When I was in secondary school, my grades in Science were pretty dismal, but I was good at Maths. My strongest subjects were definitely English and Literature. In contrast, I failed PE though, because I took 20 minutes to run 2.4km (admittedly I walked).
That would put me at odds with our protagonist in Every Variable of Us, Alexis Duncan. The school’s star basketball player, Alexis is counting on a sports scholarship to kick her start her career as a professional athlete all while squeaking by with the bare minimum in her classes. That is until she gets shot during a drive-by, shattering both her leg and her dreams.
That is until new girl, Aamani Chakrabarti, invites her onto the STEM team, where a team of nerds (although they prohibit themselves from calling themselves that) compete against other schools to answer the most questions in a timed competition à la Mean Girls. Alexis is given a chance to get out of town after all, albeit on an academic scholarship rather than a sports one. But not everyone is happy to see Alexis succeed, and she has to choose between her future and her past.
I devoured Every Variable of Us by Charles A. Bush within two days of starting it. Alexis is a beautifully flawed character; when we first meet her, she is robbing Aamani’s parents’ store and mistakenly—and pejoratively—identifies them as Muslim rather than Hindu. We see her caught up with drug dealers, gang members and addicts, and time and time again, she chooses to return to their side out of misguided loyalty, even when it could cost her her future.
But her choices are never fully right nor wrong, but they’re treated with the empathy and understanding they deserve. We can clearly chart Alexis’ growth as the novel progresses, hand-held by her welcoming new friend group. It’s a coming-of-age story in more ways than one, as Alexis struggles to name her growing feelings for Aamani as well.
Perhaps my only grudge with the story is that I find Aamani too forgiving. Despite the many times Alexis mistreats her, insulting her for her religion and her sexuality, robbing her, traumatising her, Aamani still forgives her time and time again, even taking the time to explain to Alexis her mistakes. Definitely I have known people as forgiving as Aamani in real life—her patience is definitely characteristic of someone who grew up as a minority—but at some point, I was tempted to reach through my ereader’s screen and give Alexis a slap on her behalf.
But truly, I do think that’s the beauty of the book: even when we grow frustrated with the characters, we understand why they make the choices they do. If I had grown up in Alexis’ position, or in Aamani’s position, who’s to say I wouldn’t have made the same choices she did? For those looking for a YA novel with morally-grey characters, and teenagers having to make choices they’re too young for, Every Variable of Us is the book for you.