Cover Image: Every Variable of Us

Every Variable of Us

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Member Reviews

I love this. I love Lex. I love Aamani. I love their little nerd group. I just love love.
So this book covers some intense topics, including child abuse, drug abuse, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, violence, and sexual abuse. Parts of this were rough, but I honestly loved the grittiness. I loved being inside Alexis’s head and I appreciate the author showing her learning and growing as a person as the book progressed. Because we live in such PC culture, we don’t often get to see characters realize that her assumptions about other people and cultures are a product of her environment, but not how she really sees them. Watching her life fall apart was heartbreaking, but watching her finally be able to rely on others and create a path for a future she wants (with the woman she wants!!!), ugh my whole heart. Would highly recommend!! A beautiful love story about two women from different cultures fighting to be themselves when everyone around them tells them not to be. Love it!

Thank you to NetGalley, North Star Editions, and Flux for an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

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charles a. bush brings us into the story of a young, black athlete - alexis duncan. she's an amazing basketball player, waiting to finish high school and get a college scholarship. one day she goes to a party and unfortunately she gets shot in a gang shooting. at this point she knows she won't be able to play her favourite sport anymore and her only chance of getting out of her city.

during that time we also get to know an indian girl that transferred from new jersey to philly - aamani chakrabarti. she's the typical "nerd" student - she knows lots of historical stuff, she loves watching movies (we get lots of lotr and marvel references in the story).

when alexis life is almost over, she feels like there's nothing more she could do she gets help from aamani who's a part of stem team at school. alexis isn't a good student and at first she makes jokes about it but with time she gets really good at some topics. during all that alexis who was straight at first begins to have feelings for aamani.

this book - even though it's fiction - it made me feel like it's a real story, we hear how hard it is for black or minority people to live in this modern age, when you add to it being a female, queer and disabled it really gets difficult. alexis and her story is surely an inspiring one for all young people trying to figure out their future or sexuality.

alexis' story can show us how difficult her life is - living in and out of foster homes, living in a house with her mom who doesn't care about her, then moving into a crackhouse, losing her only (or as she thought at first) way to get out of the town and don't end up like everyone else. she's an incredibly strong person and even for me - she's inspiring.

aamani is also a person who's having a hard time - after 9/11 life for muslim and as aamani tells us indian people become complex. she's the typical stereotype: "nerd" who only studies, loves comic books and fantasy movies. in reality she's a person who still learns who she is and what she likes. she learns more about her sexuality and comes out to her family who as expected didn't really like it but yet she did it because she wants to be honest with herself and everyone else.

overall, we get a cute sapphic romance with two girls from different backgrounds, quite few space references (which makes me very happy because i love moon, stars and planets!) and lots of inspiring and clever quotes.

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Teen athlete Alexis is injured in a gang shooting, destroying her dreams of a basketball scholarship. Aamani, the new girl in school, convinces her to seek an academic scholarship instead. Focusing on her studies doesn't do much for her reputation, but her new nerdy friends help her envision a better life. Will old ties lead her back into danger?

This queer, multicultural YA romance has a gritty feel but an uplifting message. Alexis is a strong character trying to survive in difficult circumstances. Her sense of loyalty creates dilemmas that would be difficult for an adult to navigate, much less a teen. She doesn't always make the right choices, but she's got a good heart, and you can't help rooting for her.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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Every Variable of Us by Charles A. Bush

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

All Alexis wants is to get out of her poverty-stricken neighborhood and she knows how she will do it, basketball. When she gets shot and ends up with a permanent injury preventing her from ever playing ball again her dreams of a scholarship are over. With the help of the new girl at school Alexis begins to shift her focus to academics in a final attempt to escape a future of fear and poverty.

This book was so heartbreaking. The author has a way of taking Alexis and really bringing her to life. She is a character you end up caring about and fearing for. So many times I was on edge just wishing that things would finally work out and she would be alright. Along with Alexis there was a whole cast of characters that were also wonderfully done. This story made me feel it all from laughter to fear. Every moment was like a loop on a roller coaster. I thought it was incredibly well written.

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We talk a lot about how YA often tends to read too old for the target audience, which I think is a fair conversation to have. What stood out to me the most about this book, is that it feels like a book that would really appeal to a teen audience.

The main reason for that is the main character. She's believably messy and flawed, and she goes through a lot of character development, that often isn't linear. She's grown up in difficult circumstances and her biggest support - her best friend - is someone who doesn't actually have her best interests in mind. This is something she comes to realize throughout the story, but it's not linear, because this person has at the same time also felt really important to her throughout the years and has come to feel like family.

Meeting Aamani, the love interest, and her STEM group slowly opens Lex up to a wider world view, which means the start of her character development. I absolutely loved this friend group, and I especially liked Aamani!

I do want to note that I found the autism rep - Matthew, one person from the STEM group, is autistic - to be quite stereotypical. I do however appreciate the author's note at the front of the book, and while the rep read stereotypical to me, I did feel like it was handled respectfully. In other words, it's not the best rep I've read, and I'd urge you to read books by autistic authors as well, but I don't feel like it's harmful.

One issue I did have with this book was that there was a sex scene in which the characters had sex while someone else was sleeping close by them. I found this inappropriate, and it took away from my enjoyment a little.

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Thank you to Pride Book Tours, Netgalley, and the publisher for the ARC!

Every Variable of us is a story of learning what one's true potential is and fighting for what you want despite all the odds. Alexis has been managing to keep her GPA at the bare minimum to allow her to participate on the basketball team, but when she is injured and is unable to compete, she has to find another way to make it to college and escape the neighborhood that she grew up in.
The story is fast paced, and it was compelling to see Alexis grow as a person as she applied her passion to everything that she did in order to reach her goal. I also liked Aamani and how she stands up for Alexis and believes in her, driving her to do bigger and better things for herself.
However, there was just enough that I didn't like about this book, and it really adds up to one main thing. I couldn't stand the amount of references that plagued the writing and dialogue. Between book and movie references, to references to athletes and celebrities, there wasn't a page in this book that didn't feature some sort of reference. I can't say no to a well timed Doctor Who reference, but there were just too many references overall for me to enjoy reading this.
I also think the romance was a little unrealistic considering how homophobic and xenophobic Alexis is, at least in the beginning of the book. Most of the characters read as two dimensional and stereotypical, whether they're science nerds or drug dealers.
Overall though, this book does bring up a lot of interesting points and conversations.

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Thank you to the author for a gifted copy in exchange for an honest review

“Why do you believe in me so much?...Because you’re a supernova remember”

This novel follows main character Alexis as she navigates her new life after a shooting accident takes away her chances of a career in basketball, we follow Lex on her journey of self-discovery and self-growth, this is a beautifully written powerful read, that includes a lot of issues and pressures that teenagers and young people experience and face whilst growing up, especially those who are not white.

I want to start off by saying that I really appreciated and liked the authors note at the start of the book and praise him for his clarification and the inclusiveness in the book, I love the fact that the author sourced
sensitivity readers to ensure that particular characters he had created were represented correctly!

There are a number of characters in this book whose personalities are well written and really jump off the page, I especially love the original members of the STEM team, Aamani, Lindsay, Brian and Matthew, I find their friendship group to be strong and supportive, and I loved the way that they care for each other, and the
banter that they all had with each other, there was such a level of comfortability between them all that really sung off the pages, I would of loved to be in that group!

I also loved the sapphic relationship development throughout the book, it was great to see Lex start to become
a new version of herself that wasn’t always trying to please others or keep up this pretence, to make sure that
she was representing her friends and hometown correctly. I completely shipped her and Aamani from the
beginning and the observatory scene really made my heart melt “Alexis Duncan, you are the brightest blue
star of all the blue stars”

I liked the fact that Aamani really helped to bring Lex out of her shell and notice and realise her potential, how many times did she remind her that she was a supernova? Aamani is one of the loveliest characters I have had the pleasure of reading about, and she is actually my favourite in the book, she is such a headstrong, supportive and encouraging character and I was fully there for her!

The writing style is good, and the book flowed majority of the time – there were times that scenes were cut abruptly, or a scene started, and you weren’t sure of how much time had elapsed, but the flow was easy, and
it was pretty fast paced most of the time. I loved all the pop references throughout the book, there were a
number of times that Lord of the Rings and Marvel characters were mentioned, and for those who aren’t fans there may be too many, but as a big fan myself I was fully down for them all!

I experienced a lot of emotions whilst reading the book, there were quite a few shock moments, and I did get a
little upset with certain characters and their behaviours, but there were also a lot of laughs throughout the book, and a number of one-liners such as Aamani claiming she needed to see “a nurse about my chances as being cast as the next Nick Fury” after she was caught taking a punch for Lex.
Plus, there is also the scene in
which Lindsay asked Matthew for his consent (that she could splash him in the pool) and I found that one
sentence really proved how much care the author has taken to write these characters!

All in all this was a wonderful read, and I am so grateful to have been gifted a copy to read, I would highly
recommend this book to everyone, but I will mention that I did find there are a number of comments within
this book that could be quite triggering for readers, so I urge anyone to check out the content warnings prior to reading the book, as even though on numerous occasions the offensive comments are challenged they may still cause upset:

Trigger Warnings : Racism, homophobia, child abuse, drug abuse, unwanted sexual contact, gang violence and death/grief


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Every Variable of Us is very conflicting to me. The discussions of racism where very well done but I didn't like the relationship at all. There were many pros and cons and I'm just not sure how to feel.

The relationship was really what threw me off me off and I was not a fan at all. Lex being an overall shitty person most of the novel factored into that heavily. I'm not sure why the LI even liked her to begin with.

Also pop culture references in books just make them dated and I really hate when they're included but that's just a personal preference.

Despite this being a strong and important debut, it just was not for me.

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4 Stars

Every Variable of Us is about Alexis Ducan, who gets injured in a gang shooting, is no longer able to pursue her dreams of being a pro basketball player. She decides to shift her focus to the school’s STEM team after being encouraged by Aamani, a new student that just moved to the area.

Before TBR and Beyond Tours posted this blog tour signup, I didn’t know anything about this book. Once I read the synopsis and saw the cover (which I fell in love with), I knew I wanted to be a part of this tour!

The writing style is quick and easy to follow. There were never any times where I felt the need to go back to reread a section because it was confusing. At times though, the writing did come off as a bit awkward and stilted. The writing tended to rely on a lot of pop culture references. These references may take some readers out of the story, but I didn’t mind it. If these references were sprinkled in less, then those more significant to the story will have more of an effect. These were mainly minor issues, which for a debut, I find excusable.

The writing tended to stick around a medium pace, which helped drive the story forward. If a story is too slow or fast, it can lead to a reader feeling disengaged in the story. I can say this wasn’t the case here! There weren’t any moments where I was bored, or where I felt as if a scene went on for too long.

When I first started reading, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Alexis. But as the story progressed, She began to grow on me, and She ended up being a different character compared to the beginning. Alexis is set on basketball and getting out of her neighborhood to pursue bigger dreams. Even when Alexis is no longer able to pursue her dreams, she doesn’t let this deter her. She is determined to work hard to do whatever it takes to get out of her poverty-stricken neighborhood and not become another statistic.

Alexis isn’t perfect. She makes plenty of mistakes and sees how Alexis realizes her mistakes and tries to improve. Alexis starts off the book having a somewhat negative towards LGBTQ+ people. By the end, this attitude is no longer present and accepting herself. When first meeting Aamani, she stereotypes her heavily, but by the end, she realizes how wrong she was and how different Aamani truly is from the stereotypical image she painted. She struggles on the STEM team and tries to stop clinging to toxic relationships in her life. Alexis’s inner conflicts are written well adding more depth to the overall narrative.

From the start, I connected with Aamani very easily. I have a lot of the same interests as her, as I’m a big nerd/geek myself. Through Alexis’s eyes, we see how Aamani struggles to fit in with her Hindu culture. She desperately tries to keep her family in one piece.

Aamani was the perfect counterpart for Alexis being her support system while keeping her in check when she makes mistakes. The relationship between Alexis and Aamani was very well developed, and it didn’t feel like it popped out of nowhere. Though it happened later in the story, the groundwork perfectly laid down to make it come together flawlessly.

The side characters, which were the other people on the STEM team, were enjoyable and felt like real people that had many complexities to them. I loved reading scenes where the whole team would be together hanging out and learning about each other’s layers. Not only did the side characters get development, but the antagonist was multidimensional with their layers.

The representation was done, in a way, that you could see that the author took a large amount of time researching, making sure it was portrayed accurately. Through this story, we can see we live in a society that makes it hard for black, brown, and Indigenous people to be in the LGBTQ+ community. The story portrays how within black and brown communities, stereotypes exist about other marginalized groups. This story also features an autistic character, which is amazing. Many YA stories tend not to feature them, and he even took the extra step to bring in a sensitivity reader to ensure the autism community was well represented!

This story is perfect for readers looking for an enjoyable contemporary that features commentary on microaggressions across races, STEM, enjoyable characters, and well-written character journeys for our two main characters!

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What I loved


If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I’m a fan of characters and character-driven stories. I loved the characters in this story because they were flawed, and the characters felt real. I loved how they all had interests in their own things, including Marvel, math, and STEM. The main character Alexis really grew as the story progressed, and I loved seeing her grow for the better, and how she became a better person over the course of the story. Aamani was a supporting character in the novel, and she was another I really enjoyed reading about. The friends will be talked about later in this review, but I really enjoyed their character arcs as well.


The plot of this story was a book I very much enjoyed. While this was more of a character-driven story, I still really enjoyed the plot of this story as it was about finding yourself and finding the true meaning of friendship. I love friendship-driven stories, and ones with found family elements, so this story was right up my alley. When the story started, I was not sure where the plot was going to go based on the summary, but I really enjoyed the journey this story took you on. The plot plays a part in every story, and this novel had a fantastic conclusion.


The writing in this story was fantastic, and I loved it. Every Variable of Us was filled with a mix of light-hearted scenes, and heavy scenes, which I loved. All the light-hearted scenes were filled with light and fun moments because of the writing. In a similar way, the heavy scenes, such as the ones with friends, Aamani and Alexis, and Alexis and her mom, were filled with dramatic style because of the writing.

Romance/ Friendship

I’m combining these two elements in my review because both played equal elements to the story. The romance between Alexis and Aamani was so sweet, and I just loved the two of them so much. They both had moments of finding themselves and exploring their sexuality in the novel, and I believe there should be more of that in YA. Alexis had two friend groups in Every Variable of Us. In the novel, neither of them interacted. In fact, Alexis was judged by the group she had before the novel for being friends with the second group. I loved the second group of friends because they all supported each other, even if they didn’t agree with the actions that Alexis took over the course of the novel.

Personal Enjoyment & Recommend for

I loved this novel so much. It’s one of my favorite novels of the year so far. I recommend this book for those that enjoy LGBTQ+ novels, and novels where the characters grow over the course of the novel.

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Thanks to #pridebooktours for making this book available to me.

Where do I start with this book, the characters were interesting, the plot was fascinating but I enjoyed the writing a lot more. It really took on the tone of each character and I really loved that. We follow Alexis whose dream is to be a big time basketball player and in most part she is on her way to become one. Just has she is about to achieve this dream (at least in part), she is shot during a gang related violence and she is not longer able to play. This means no basketball dream and no scholarship.

She now has to turn to her school STEM team who are definitely very different from what she imagined. She makes quick friends with Aamani (an Indian student, whose parents shop she and her friend had tried to steal pizza from), who helps her see herself and her community in a different light. She has to distance herself from friends that would make her new dream unachievable and most importantly the imposter syndrome that she now has.

This is a story of redemption, revival of dreams, self-love and development.

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A book I wish I had growing up. You can feel how connected the author is to the community and people he is writing about. The book offers representation of different paths and opportunities available to explore. I like that it doesn’t underestimate the depth of teens, their issues and their accomplishments

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After Philly teenager Alexis Duncan is injured in a gang shooting, her dreams of a college scholarship and pro basketball career vanish in an instant. To avoid becoming another Black teen trapped in her poverty-stricken neighborhood, she shifts her focus to the school's STEM team, a group of nerds seeking their own college scholarships. Academics have never been her thing, but Alexis is freshly motivated by Aamani Chakrabarti, the new Indian student who becomes her mentor (and crush?). Alexis begins to see herself as so much more than an athlete. But just as her future starts to reform, Alexis’s own doubts and old loyalties pull her back into harm’s way.

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I absolutely adored this coming of age YA novel. It was brave and bold in all the most important ways. It addressed so many controversial and poignant topics from racism, to grappling with one’s identity as an LGBTQIA person, to socioeconomic disparities, to growing up surrounded by substance use, and more…

I did feel this was a bit slow to start and really get into. It was worth sticking with once I got over that initial hump though! Definitely recommended for readers who enjoy YA with an edge.

Thank you to Charles A Bush and NetGalley for the digital Advanced Reader Copy.

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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Every Variable of Us

Author: Charles A. Bush

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Black Bisexual MC, Indian American Lesbian love interest, Autistic character, Asian character, Physically disabled background characters

Recommended For...: young adult readers, contemporary, 2SLGBT+, romance

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary

Age Relevance: 16+ (violence, gore, gang related activity, poverty, romance, Islamaphobia, homophobia, transphobia, abelism, drugs, drug addiction, parental abandonment)

Explanation of Above: The book shows the MC getting shot in a gang-related incident and her injuries afterwards. The book goes into detail about the MC’s life, which includes living in poverty along with many other characters. The book has a romance in it, which is very sweetly done. There are incidences of islamaphobia, homophobia, transphobia, and abelism in the book. There are drugs and drug addiction shown in the book. There is also an incident of a character getting kicked out.

Publisher: North Star Editions

Pages: 400

Synopsis: After Philly teenager Alexis Duncan is injured in a gang shooting, her dreams of a college scholarship and pro basketball career vanish in an instant. To avoid becoming another Black teen trapped in her poverty-stricken neighborhood, she shifts her focus to the school's STEM team, a group of nerds seeking their own college scholarships. Academics have never been her thing, but Alexis is freshly motivated by Aamani Chakrabarti, the new Indian student who becomes her mentor (and crush?). Alexis begins to see herself as so much more than an athlete. But just as her future starts to reform, Alexis’s own doubts and old loyalties pull her back into harm’s way.

Review: I really enjoyed this book! The book was so well written and while I hated Alexis’ struggle I loved seeing how she handled it. The book did well with having so many diverse characters and the character development for each of them was well done. The book also had a sensitivity reader for the autistic community go through the book, which I highly appreciate. The book was honest and unashamed in how it displayed the story, which I appreciated greatly, and I also loved how well the world building was described.

The only issue I had is that the book got a bit slow in the middle and some of the pacing was a bit off, but other than that I loved the book.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

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Surprisingly funny voice (“A room full of boners and weaves,” “Hair look like a bunch of spiders having a meeting”) despite all the wannabe woke stuff and endless stereotypes about everyone from Muslims and lesbians to blacks and fatties. Regardless of the halfass self-censorship, okay pacing, realistic (though maybe overdone) slang, and good POV. The quasi-foster home the girls (and some adults) are in is interesting, the basketball not so much when it comes to reading/writing. They’re just too different; I skimmed all that.

Never heard of people mixing up Indians and Muslims so unsure why it’s such a long, unnatural discussion. Also all the rap/pop music sounds 5-15 years dated. Ex. Timberland mentioned post-Trump years is wild. This MC starts as dumb as they come. She’s surprised people get scholarships for high academics. She never heard of cosplay as though blerds or the 21st century doesn’t exist. Yet she uses the word petulant and blasé casually, so out of character. Also, how do you not /in your head/ at least kind of know you like girls when you’re almost graduated—the most hormonal time of your life? Maybe all of this would’ve worked in the ‘80-00s but not now. I like girls and every other lez I know knew at least secretly their propensity by like 12. And they probably weren’t flirting half as hard as this girl.

The writing is a little over explained. When there’s action going on we’re spoon-fed the obvious why-it’s-happening instead of picking up the pace. Like, we know what a drive-by is. Good ironic end and emotions to chapter two though: bitching about how the party didn’t even have little sandwiches to justify the violence.

Obviously, the girl’s crushed she can’t play basketball any more though I never got the sense she was /actually/ good since we only heard about her losing and eating junk food—I just took that to be her talking herself up as she does with everything. It’d be cool if she got a scholarship but it’s not like she wouldn’t flunk out of college and what are the chances she’d be in the WMBA that doesn’t make that much money anyway? (And in what modern world wouldn’t a college eat up her now improved sob story if she wrote them or got on the news?) Stupid teens are stupid teens though. And oh man, was she whiny BEFORE this...

Love reading about her smacked out, hooking mom. It gives the story color besides the wise-cracking. That and the abusive foster home. (When will everybody learn not to leave these things up to creepy, old men? And how do the girls not spit in his food? Or afford name-brand shoes?) Some good avoided cliches: “passed around like party flyers,” “feigning hard” vs “fiending hard.”

The sleepover with the girls in Ch 10 is in need of a major fast-forward, nerding about Avengers, atoms in space, and LeBron James. Only the first and last page add to the story. Later, I’m able to feel for her with the falling and crying, improving her future by studying and summarizing things in a cute way like Pluto not cutting it in the hood to stay a planet. Not a necessarily bad book but of course when half the concept is about a geek club, almost as much of the book is skim-worthy.

If you want to make this decent book next-level, take a shot every time you read “rich, white people” like it’s relevant or “woke on” instead of “not sleeping on” something like a normal person. All in all, okay. I’ll look out for the authors other books, hoping there’ll be a college-age version of this ghetto chick to be a little more pragmatic from the jump but still slick with her tongue and money moves. Good character development though. Plus, great happy and sad twists and arguments towards the end.

Uh, some glaring oversights though: The kids w/ no licenses stole a whole bus and no one noticed, there were no accidents and it was glossed over how the bus was back in its spot the next day. Okuuur. Also not sure why if her mom’s abusive BF has a gun he leaves out all the time, why she never used it to threaten his ass. Also, a short field trip for a handful of kids wouldn’t cost $3K. Where’d the rest of the money go?

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I.... don't know what exactly to say. First of all, there was an EXCESSIVE amount of pop culture references. Like, an uncomfortable amount. You would have to consciously choose to talk and make references about pop culture every second to reach the amount they talk about it in this book. The relationship between the main character and her best friend bothers me. I know that they have been through a lot and took care of each other, but that does not excuse the fact that the best friend lied and used the main character after being horrible to the main character just because she joined the STEM team. The love interest is somehow into the main character even though the main character is not exactly nice to her (including a part where she turns a gun on her). There's also an implied sex scene in which two of the characters have sex in a hotel room while someone else is in the room, asleep. However, I did genuinely enjoy some parts of this novel. It mentions many important issues (racism, homophobia, etc.) It also contains important representation.

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This book has a really interesting blurb, which was what made me request a copy to read but unfortunately it ended up not meeting my expectations.

I couldn't feel any sympathy for Lex, the main character, even given all that she went through because she was such a horrible person. She was ignorant, homophobic and xenophobic throughout the majority of the book which made me really not care about what little character growth she had. When I thought she was becoming a better version of herself, despite all the hate she had engrained, for two steps forward she did something that sent her thirty steps back.

I honestly don't have a single clue for what made the love character interested in her. She was so disrespectful to her it made me want to put the book down and not pick it up again multiple times. She even disrespected her parents when she came to defend Aamani towards the end of the book. It was a nice thought, but done so poorly. I don't care if you love my daughter, you better have some respect when you talk to me. For someone who didn't like people labeling her, she sure did a lot of labeling herself. And Aamani just kept coming back for some reason I'm yet to discover.

Change comes with the realization of the mistakes we made and our wanting to be better and do things differently. But I don't think I have ever seen Lex apologize to other people for the horrible things she has done and/or said, apart from the few times she apologized to Aamani, which also ended up pulling me out from the story.

This book features drug use, drug abuse, violence, homophobia, xenophobia and probably other things I'm forgetting to mention so take that in consideration when you think about reading it.

Again, I think the concept is very good and I'm curious to see where future works by the author take us.

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<i>I received an advanced reader's copy of this audiobook for review purposes from the publisher from netgalley. this in no way influences my review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.</i>

<i>every variable of us</i> follows lex, an average student who plans to get out of her impoverished neighbourhood on a basketball scholarship as a gang shooting renders her gravely injured, thus derailing her life. lex loses all hope and resigns herself to the life expected of another unfortunate Black teenage girl born into a poverty-stricken neighbourhood until she meets aamani, who strikes up a tentative friendship that grows into a romance with her and convinces her to join the school STEM team. they get off to a rocky start and it feels almost impossible to root for the redemption of their relationship: they first meet when aamani reports lex for trying to steal from her father's convenience store, lex's friends have it out for aamani, their relationship begins with lex throwing all kinds of slurs at her; but it progresses beautifully into a tender, passionate romance.

this book does a great job with the romance and in exploring friendships (toxic and otherwise), racism/anti-Blackness (I will get to the desi representation in a second), classism and ableism. it's very hopeful and almost inspiring as lex slowly picks up the pieces of her crumbling life to build a future for herself. the stem team was adorable and i may not be the biggest fan of science but the science metaphors were *chef's kiss*

the writing style is super quick and easy to follow, if a little awkward and stilted at times. case in point: curry food? not a thing. there are a million better ways to describe skin tone without reference to hazelnut or caramel chocolate (which also "almost goes pale" at one point), and aamani's eyes are actually (i literally cannot make this up) described as "brown spheres". do not even get me started on how awkward some of the hindi dialogue was:// but those were mostly minor issues pertaining to like 6-7 lines across the book at most and since this is a debut i think that's excusable:')

oh and a couple of issues on the indian hindu representation i had as an indian from a hindu family:: some of it seemed all over the place and very generalized regarding indian culture - like how aamani has a bangali surname (chakrabarti) but speaks hindi at home and says she's from "the home of bollywood" and says something about all dance and club bollywood sounding the same:// they're pretty tiny issues though and other than that id say the representation was pretty well done:D

anyway so overall? this was emotional, cute and hella inspiring, id definitely recommend:)

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I loved this book. I laughed, I cried, I had horrible anxiety a few times as Lex made the choices I knew were wrong but she knew was right.

I’m completely in awe of the character development in this book. What you need to know up front: Lex is her West Philly high school’s basketball star. She has dreams of getting a basketball scholarship and getting out of her dangerous West Philly neighborhood. Those dreams are destroyed when she’s hit by a stray bullet during a drive-by. She’s ready to give up ever escaping Hargrove but then Aamanai, the new girl at school, convinces Lex to join the STEM team and try for an academic scholarship instead.

There’s so much to love in this book. The STEM team are all such wonderful characters, I was rooting for them the whole book. Charles A. Bush also has such a great ear for writing natural dialogue and it was so refreshing seeing Philly slang in a YA. Every “boul” or “jawn” just brought a smile to my face.

But where EVERY VARIABLE OF US really shines is the development of Lex. At the beginning Lex’s main focus is basketball. She keeps her grades at a C-average so she doesn’t get cut from the team, but every waking minute she’s not hanging with her friends she’s practicing ball. She believes she’s only good at basketball and she doesn’t want to end up a drug addict like her mom, so she knows she’ll only get out of West Philly if she gets an athletic scholarship to pay for school, and eventually get into the WNBA. She believes that because that’s what society is telling her. She thinks that’s her only way out.

But the reader is shown early on that Lex isn’t dumb. Through her interactions with her friends and neighbors, we see how she KNOWS them. She knows how to diffuse the anger from her friend Britt when she wants to beat up Aamani. She knows how to avoid confrontations with her mother and Britt’s foster father, and when we first meet her she knows that she and Britt are going to get caught if they steal from Amani’s father’s store.

She’s not just street smart, though. She just wasn’t applying herself to anything but basketball because she didn’t have anyone to tell her she could do more. She had an idea of what she was supposed to be, because Black girls get two options: drugs or sports.

Hear me out… Lex is West Philly Elle Woods. They both start their stories wanting something that society tells them is all they deserve, then by the end they’ve found joy in something new, and they’ve figured out what they wanted for themselves and how to get it. The greatest of all character arcs? You decide. (I’m kidding, it is. I’ve decided for you.)

Finally I don’t want to get into spoilers, but Lex makes a couple decisions in the book that I was so nervous and sad while reading, but only because I wanted better FOR her. This was another amazing part of the character development Charles A. Bush does so well. Even when she’s making the wrong decisions I understand her motivation and I fully support her. We see her grappling with what she wants and what she thinks she HAS to do because of community. And through that she learns how to respect where she came from, how that made her into the person she is, and finally how the person she is doesn’t have to be what society wants her to be.

EVERY VARIABLE OF US is such a beautiful story and I can’t wait for readers to experience this book.

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