Published by Balzer + Bray on May 10th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself, anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.
That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.
But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?
Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.
With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?
In THIS IS MY BRAIN ON BOYS by Sarah Strohmeyer, Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. She believes in the chemicals that create feelings of love, and she believes that those chemicals alter a person’s thoughts and actions and brain chemistry, but that’s not the same thing as believing in love. Especially when Addie has a theory that “love” can be induced by manipulating circumstances to ensure that a person’s brain puts out the chemicals that create feelings of love.
What I liked most about this novel was the complexity of the main character, Addie. Addie is very clearly autistic (if you are at all familiar with autism), but this isn’t a story about autism. It’s a story about a very analytical and driven young woman succeeding in a scientific endeavor. Addie is not portrayed the way that autistic individuals are typically portrayed in media. She has friends (yes, plural — she has more than one), she’s not painted as an outcast, and no one tries to change or fix her. She is written like an actual, real person, not as a token representation of autism, and I really appreciated that.
What I liked most about this novel was the complexity of the main character, Addie.
I also liked the turning-on-the-head of the trope where a scientifically-minded person who “doesn’t believe in love” falls in love and learns the error of their ways. I love that the twist we see with Addie is in the nuances. She believes in the chemicals and endorphins, and she recognizes that the chemicals and endorphins typically associated with love make you feel good, and that’s both fine and desirable.
And I like the other issues THIS IS MY BRAIN ON BOYS touches on — second chances, the transition from high school to college, escaping toxic friendships and relationships. Overall, I thought this was a well-written book. It’s a fairly predictable story, and the “twist” was not particularly surprising to me, but I do recommend picking this one up.