“The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.”
Title: Zenn Diagram
Author: Wendy Brant
Genre and Themes: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Friendship
Expected Publication: Kids Can Press, 4 April 2017
Read: January 2017
MATH GENIUS. FREAK OF NATURE. LONER.
Eva Walker has literally one friend – if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old siblings – and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.
Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just be touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.
Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…
Hello, world! I’m back with my first book review after being MIA for a while (MONTHS!!!) and I’m excited to share more bookish stuff with you again. I really hoped you missed me as much as I missed blogging and this community. 😀 Here we go…
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Well, I wanted to read this book because of the MC, Eva is a math prodigy. I am particularly drawn to stories with such MCs because as a self-confessed math nerd back in high school, I kind of see my past self in them.
First, let me talk about the cover! I really ❤ it. It has a Venn Diagram – the math stuff from which the book’s title came from – in the shape of. a. heart, how cute. In the back cover, there are random doodles and equations similar to what can commonly be seen in real-life math notebooks. Plus all those equations the blends in with the math-ishness of the book.
The first chapter opens with Eva talking about her favorite and dream calculators. If that’s not a very nerdy way to start a book, I do not know what is.
(By the way, I Googled her dream calculator and damn, it really is that awesome!)
The TI-84 is my favorite lower-end calculator. Not many teenagers have a favorite calculator, much less a favorite calculator in different price ranges, but I’m super cool like that. My dream calculator is the TI-Nspire CX CAS Handheld graphing calculator with full-color display. I year for it the way some girls my age might obsess over a cute pair of boots.
Eva is not special just because of her mathematical prowess, but she also has this gift, the ability to know other people’s feelings by just touching them or anything of their possession to which they have an emotional attachment, or they used often enough to absorb their feelings. For example, a person’s favorite shirt or a handkerchief or a mug. They come in form of what she calls fractals. She describes them as similar to actual mathematical fractals, “infinitely complex, which means you can zoom in forever and the pattern never disappears, and never gets any simpler.” The fractals from her father’s glasses, for example, is “mostly a deep teal swirled with gray blues, a pattern like a chain.”
On a side note, mathematical fractals are actually very interesting and I think the author did a good job to describing Eva’s visions. Here’s a GIF of a fractal to mesmerize you:
I liked Eva because as a typically responsible student, she’s already got her future planned by herself. Graduate high school, get a scholarship, finish college, go to graduate school and finally spend her time doing research on stuff that might help cure her condition. All these changed when she met the new boy in school that she has to tutor – Zenn.
“I’m sorry… I forget your name.”
“Zenn,” he says. His voice is like gravy. Like… melted peanut butter.
“Right. Zen. Like…” – I pinch my middle fingers and thumbs together and place them, palms up, on the table – “Buddha?”
“Kinda. But two n’s. Like…” – he make circle with each of his hands and overlaps them slightly – “Venn diagram.”
Oh, lordy. He’s using math analogies. I think I’m in love.
And there she spent their first tutorial session together stealing glances at his hands and eyelashes.
Zenn is a special one because Eva can touch him without triggering any fractals. Oh, yes. He also is gifted, artistically speaking. Eva and Zenn got to spend more time together when Zenn offered to repaint Eva’s church van. One night in Zenn’s house, Eva discovered these fractal paintings made my Zenn, illustrations of what she actually sees/feels with her visions. Nice touch, pun intended.
The other characters, of course, are worth mentioning. Charlotte, Eva’s best friend had her own love story going on. When she started dating football player Josh, Eva decided to distance herself from her best friend to give her Charlotte a chance to get to know Josh and his friends more. Still, Eva’s trying to look out for her by stealing fractal glances from Josh’s stuff when tutoring him. That really tells a lot about Eva’s character.
And did I mention that Eva has
one two three four (!!!) younger siblings. Essie, Libby, Ethan and Eli are quadruplets and are very, very cute and adorable!! I can’t imagine having four younger brothers and sisters, though. What a mess and chaos our house is sure to be.
Everything was going pretty well until she discovered something about the past that connects them. Her discovery resulted to Eva giving up something very important to her, her ticket to a bright future. Eva’s actions not only earned the disapproval of her parents but almost ended her relationship with Zenn.
Eva is a very good person. She did try helping other people when she senses by their fractal that they need some but she learned the hard way that sometimes people don’t want their problems known to others, and there’s nothing you could do to help them anyway. She also has a sense of humor, well she tries.
I clear my throat. “Cosine,” I say, and start to copy a problem onto the paper. “It’s not just something your dad does on loans.” He laughs a little, the pink in his cheeks fades and we get to work.
I did see myself in her but she did some decisions that I completely disagree with. Me screaming “Whyyyy?!?”s at my e-reader is a testimony to it.
In the end, I’m happy things turned out fine for everyone (except for me, I’m still not over it Eva), in ways they didn’t expect. I would have given this a higher rating if the plot is not too similar to the formula of local television shows in my country, which made it too predictable for me. (I really think the ones at fault here are the people who run these television shows in our country!) There are also some things that are still a little bit unclear to me, like how Eva got her ability, for example. But, to be fair, Eva still doesn’t know the reason herself hehe. I do hope though that she finds out the scientific reason in the future.
Confession: I started with a 3-star rating with this book but while writing the review I realized that I loved it more that I first thought and gave it a 1 star up! That aside, I really loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Wendy Brandt!
I think about when we met and I asked him his name and he made that Venn diagram with his hands. I probably fell in love with him right on the spot. I think about how our circles once seemed to barely overlap. Two separate lives with a tiny sliver of math tutoring in common. But now it’s like my whole circle and his whole circle are the same: our past, our present and maybe even our future.
By the way, as of writing, this book is still open at Netgalley so I urge y’all to try and read it!
People tend to hide all their darkest secrets, and somehow still look fine on the outside.
The line between fascinating and frightening is a thin one. Lightning is cool to look at, but no one wants to get struck.
I write about when I was in grade school and most of my friends kept diaries or made scrapbooks of pop stars, I kept a notebook of math joke and riddles: What geometric shape is like a lost parrot? A Polygon! or Why was the math book sad? It had too many problems. I talk about how, in a world of shades of gray, sometimes it’s nice to have black-and-white answers.
Everybody’s talented at something. Doesn’t mean we all get to do what we want.
I do that sometimes: assume that everything is easy for other people compared to the stuff I have to deal with. But I forget that academics are easy for me and that’s something, at least.
Maybe this is what love feels like: wanting something for someone else as much as you want it for yourself.
…maybe it’s better to know the people’s truths than the false faces they sometimes put on.
This a story about love, friendship, forgiveness, sacrifice, and being true to oneself. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and recommends it to people love random math references and tragic backstories. ❤