[649]: This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer


Balzer + Bray | May 10th, 2016 | 4 out of 5 Stars

Socially awkward brainiacs has a special place in my heart.  I feel a certain inexplicable kinship towards them that is in protective almost. I admire the way they see life without the emotional hang-ups that muddle it all. It’s in the way they can compartmentalize and explain their feelings with utter practicality. They’re walking encyclopedias full of knowledge about anything and everything, but completely useless when it comes to relationships and social interactions. I knew I had to read this book in part because it had undertones of Jane Austen’s Emma. And with a character who thinks and speaks like The Rosie Project’s Don Tillman, I was more than willing to clear my nightstand of other books in favor of This is My Brain on Boys.


Addie has a scientific answer for everything. All human emotions and reactions can be rationalized through the body’s biological and chemical make-ups. She has a tendency to sound like a robot, but her sensible view on life is what makes her unintentionally funny.  If Don Tillman had a daughter, Addie would’ve been it. She is infinitely fascinated with the human brain and the way it functions. She’s able to quantify falling in and out of love as a result of a chemical being produced and expelled through one of life’s irrational experience. In some ways, she’s a teen but she’s only able to slowly embrace it through daily interactions with her little circle of friends.  She has no illusions regarding her physical attributes and sees herself as the world sees her. I couldn’t help but feel protective of her in as much as Tess, her best friend, likes to make sure no one can mess with her.  She’s like a daughter I want to coddle all the time because she’s kind of vulnerable. But given the time to think things through, she finds her way out of bad situations. She’s funny but she doesn’t aim to be. She just is.

Trauma = Love

People have been known to develop a closeness through a shared traumatic experience. But what if Science can prove that two subjects can fall in love with another if they were involved in a dangerous situation? This is what she aimed to prove in her entry for an award that will grant her a scholarship. The Emma twist in this story is that she falls in love with her subject. However, she didn’t know that he was partly responsible for the vandalism that happened in her lab.

Kris is a boy about the world, animal rights activist and an all around good guy. He’s about to serve his sentence for vandalizing Addie’s lab. Besides helping out as a groundskeeper, Kris’ punishment was to enlist in a Science experiment. I love that we see both Kris’ and Addie’s perspective. We see their motivations and their own insecurities. Kris is a conscientious boy whose heart was in the right place. Unfortunately, he got involved with the wrong crowd. Their quasi-romance was sweet; almost non-existent but you see how much they like each other through musings and observations.

In Retrospect

Most have bemoaned the fact that Addie talks like Sheldon. But come on, who doesn’t adore Sheldon? She’s very serious in her conviction which I find wholly admirable. This book is funny and sweet; smart and heartfelt. I couldn’t ask for a more awkward brainiac than in Addie.

Continue Reading