My mechanical romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth

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Readers looking for an engrossing romance will not be disappointed in this young adult novel by the author of the adult novel The Atlas Six writing under the pseudonym of Olivie Blake.

After doing a very last-minute project Bel’s science teacher believes that she is capable of being part of the robotics club at the school. Bel joins reluctantly. Before her parent’s breakup she had been coasting along at her old school, but her mother is working very hard to keep her in a private school, where she is expected to do more. Mateo Luna (Teo for short) is the leader of the robotics club, and Bel finds herself becoming intrigued with the problem solving involved in building a robot and the high achieving Teo.

Follmuth’s narrative flows along so smoothly with such relatable characters that it is hard to put down the book as the growing romance between Bel and Teo progresses. Equally fascinating is the background of robotics and engineering which will appeal even to readers with no STEM background. The theme of the problems that young women have in working in an engineering background and the subtle putdowns and low expectation is handled deftly. The author in her acknowledgements writes that the book is ‘for the girls that we are, and the ones that we were’ and the women we will be.’ Young women who are interested in STEM will feel validated while reading this but have so much fun along the way following Bel and Teo’s growth and understanding of themselves and others.

Well written, enjoyable, and thought provoking, this is one for all readers who enjoy YA literature with heart.

Themes: Romance, STEM, Coming of age, Robotics, Engineering, Teamwork.

Pat Pledger