My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth
A Book Review by Mina Nguyen
Bel, the main character, is like any high school student: a procrastinator. She’s unorganized and a tad bit irresponsible but that hasn’t deterred her from doing things last minute. When Bel forgets to build a catapult for her Physics class, she’s forced to go scrounge around for last-minute materials a couple of minutes before class. Miraculously, her catapult works extremely well (for a last minute diy project), leading her Physics teacher to push her to transfer to an AP Physics class where she’ll be challenged. Along with transferring to AP Physics, her former teacher also encourages Bel to try out for the robotics team; however, Bel doesn’t think robotics is her thing. When she tries out, the team captain Mateo believes that she may be a good asset, except that she’s never had any experience, causing the only other girl on the team to ignore her. In order to prove her position on the team, Bel secretly meets up with Mateo. As the after-school work sessions grow longer, Bel and Mateo realize they do make a good team, a good enough team that may win the national championship. And maybe Bel does have a talent for robotics and maybe girls do belong in STEM.
While this book is categorized as romance, it discusses a lot more topics besides romance. A topic this book discusses, besides romance, is the sudden rivalry between women in STEM and hesitation of whether women are “up” to the task. Whether people realize it or not, there is a large stigma around women being in STEM, especially when women have to compete among other women. This book perfectly addresses the feeling of feeling worthy to participate in once-male-dominated fields and finding women within those fields who don’t feel like competition. This book is also extremely relatable, making the character lovable. Bel, is a procrastinator, like most high school students, so she constantly refuses to finish her Common Application because it feels like she’ll have to finally grow up. A lot of teens look towards the idea of growing up to be a good thing, but Bel describes the feeling of having to grow up as a death sentence since society forces young adults to know their future step-by-step. Most contemporary books also feature the main character studying all their lives and ending up exactly at the college they want to go to, which is sometimes unrealistic. I love that Bel did have an ideal school she wanted to attend but didn’t make it end, allowing Bel to look for other options and being perfectly fine with not attending her dream school; it shows how realistic lives are for most teens applying to college.
Besides those topics, the romance was good. It was cute and accurate to most teenage relationships with ups and downs, especially when they have busy schedules and are on the same team.If this were to fall under a trope, it starts off as academic rivals but their relationship progresses naturally where you don’t even realize that they’re no longer academic rivals. I also appreciated how the two main characters are people of color, which is rare in contemporary romance. The author clearly did research in the two different cultures and respected each ethnicity’s customs and traditions and portrayed it accurately. Besides the romantic relationships, the friendships were extremely well done. The side characters had personality and came from all different backgrounds with each being well researched; each person had their own side story with their own relationships and development.
My Mechanical Romance is a dual point-of-view, contemporary romance, STEM, friends-to-lovers young adult book. As a person not interested in robotics, the author made it easy to understand and follow the mechanics. The camaraderie within the book is super fun and all the relationships, even the side characters, are extremely well-developed. The research for all the characters’ cultures and customs were accurately and beautifully done. This is an extremely cute book and every young adult reader would definitely enjoy it.
A Show for Two by Tashie Bhuiyan / A Show for Two by Tashie Bhuiyan / Geekerella by Ashley Poston / Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz / Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Put My Mechanical Romance on hold here