Review: Complex Solutions by Susan Dalessandro

What do you do when you think someone’s bullied? When you are certain something else plays, but you don’t yet know what? That’s how this story starts. With a girl who cuts herself. Twice, before nine o’clock.

And that’s just the mornings for Lexi.

We also meet Joe Biondi. The ‘hot’ guy. It’s Sarah who notices he’s wachting Lexi, but as things go, Lexi doesn’t believe that. She doesn’t have a very high view of herself – that much is clear. It’s also Sarah who becomes Lexi’s first friend at the school.

Lexi is a wizard in math – hence the title, complex solutions – and it’s when she enters that class that we witness the first interaction between her and Joe. Lexi might not know it, but a ‘hot’ boy defending you like this? Does it hold a bigger promise than that Joe is ‘just’ a nice guy?

That’s when we learn Lexi had a similar experience with another hot guy in her former school. Or is it similar? Joe ‘feels’ different. So maybe…

I feel sorry for Lexi, but that’s not what keeps me reading. She has an interesting personality that part of me understands but too well, while the other part wonders how long it will take someone to notice what she does. Classes are short – they don’t participate in sending the story forward. There is one thing I notice far too often, though that’s not a fault of the author (if it were, I am to blame as well). For some odd reason authors always want someone with green eyes in their books. In my case that’s a young girl, but in Lexi’s case it’s Joe.

In chapter 2 we learn of the tragic that happened and we also learn her last name is Thompson. We learn she received a letter asking her for proof of a theorem her parents discovered, one that is very important.

So, now we have a lonely girl who might well be looking for the lost proof of a theorem with a heart that goes into overdrive each time she sees Joe Bioni while she cuts herself?

Complex solutions, indeed. Unless it isn’t all true.

Nevertheless, she starts her search. She’s now living with her grandmother: ‘grams’, a woman she scared the hell out of when she tried to do something that would have kept this book from ever being written.

You would think that a novel about mathematics is hard to crack. It isn’t. From the letter Lexi receives, we learn the theorem is about Pure Mathematics and Google (when Lexi searches for what it means on her own) explains us what that is. Pure Mathematics is the study of math for math’s sake. And that’s how she’s going to connect with Joe Bioni.

I don’t know what background Susan Dalessandro has, but she succeeds in creating a story based on mathematics without making it dull. You’re not flabbergasted by complex theorems, though we eventually learn which theorem Lexi’s looking for.

I love the book and the story and I see why Rhetoric Askew published it. It pulls you along a path that’s not always a happy one, but is filled with a young lady who is determined to see it all through, and friends who support her – even when she fails. We discover the friendship between Lexi and Sarah, and the more than special bond that Joe and Lexi create. Together they go on an adventure no mathematician should shy away from. Yes. This is by all means a book you want to read.

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