About the Book

Title: Relativity
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: Cosmic Love
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Talky Talk: Science Keener
Bonus Factors: Parallel Universes, The Butterfly Effect
Relationship Status: Lab Partner — and Nothing More

Cover Story: Cosmic Love

This is suuuuper nerdy, but SO FRICKIN’ GORGEOUS — no shame in carrying this book around. Heck, you might even be mistaken for a scholarly physicist! (If Denise Richards could* fake it, so can you.)

*The word “could” being used very loosely, of course.

The Deal:

After her widower father remarries, fifteen-year-old Ruby Wright is uprooted from San Francisco to small town Ohio. It’s there that she discovers a wormhole to alternative realities: worlds where she has the perfect family, the perfect boyfriend… just not necessarily in the same place. But does that convergence of perfection even exist? And what is Ruby willing to sacrifice to find out?

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

BFF charm with Roger Murtagh from Lethal Weapon's face.

I’m not too old for Ruby’s shizz because of her youth, since age ain’t nothing but a number when it comes to my BFF charms. I just found her to be so infuriatingly realistic and believable in the worst possible ways. Even before she embarks on her search for that perfect universe, Ruby’s selfishness is on full display with her attitude towards the move. Ruby, moving may suck but the world does not revolve around you — a fact that, given her fervent science obsession (much more on that later), she should be fully aware of. Ruby is also super smart, which only amplifies that arrogance of youth. All painfully relatable traits, but none that I really want to revisit.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

With Ruby’s profuse proclamations about her feelings for George, I initially thought that they had been dating before she moved away from San Francisco. But in keeping with that way-too-young personality, Ruby’s a Watts that has built up the relationship in her head. George is like a pair of skinny jeans away from being a pretentious hipster artist, i.e., NO THANKS. Much like Ruby, he’s more bearable without, y’know, the sole greatest passion in his life. 

Talky Talk: Science Keener

I’m not talking about an actual science keener — because hello, I WAS one and I have never heard anyone speak like this. And I realize that the microcosm of nerds I have encountered in my life does not necessarily represent all possible nerds. But sweet baby cheeses, this narration lays it on THICK. I equate its style to that of The Big Bang Theory. And lest you think, “Oh, I love that show!” — dear reader, that is not meant to be a compliment. I do not love that show. This book has that same try-hard, “This is what nerds would say” vibe.

And I swear this next anecdote has a point. I once had this prof who used ABSOLUTELY asinine analogies. His lectures just involved mindless copying of notes, so I eventually started transcribing all the ridonckulous that he was spouting. Here’s a sampling from my actual notes:

How to defend the castle:

– increase resistance

– weaken invaders

“A grain of rice is always an ellipsoid.”

“Pigs fly. It happens.”

(This class was on neither agriculture nor fortress fortifying.)

That’s what I ended up doing for this book, too. Like when Ruby is trying to calm herself down, she uses some variation of the following. SEVEN TIMES.

Fill your lungs with fresh air, Ruby. N2 and O2 in, carbon dioxide out.

Or when she’s problem-solving:

There’s got to be a reasonable explanation — for all of this. Maybe applying the scientific method will help.

Here she is, contemplating a risky decision:

Think of Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion. You know — an object in motion will remain in motion in a straight line with constant speed unless acted upon by an external and unbalanced force. There’s no external force keeping me back.

Don’t forget about her witty comebacks!

I yell over my shoulder, “You’re one planet short of a solar system!”

I GET IT, BOOK — SHE LIKES SCIENCE. Now kindly STOP BLUDGEONING ME WITH IT. As the obsession of my youth would say, too much of something is bad enough. Look, I can name-drop Michio Kaku too, but I don’t feel a compulsive need to constantly validate my nerd status.

Adding to the frustration is Ruby’s selective science knowledge. Girl has a freaking tattoo of the Einstein tensor and yet she needs to look up wormholes? For the reader’s sake, sure, but that’s more improbable than the existence of parallel universes.

As grating as I found these references, this book saved itself from DNF status many a time — and I do mean MANY — because of the premise. (And the cover. Frick, I love that cover.) The sparse pages in between science-y speak were MUCH welcomed respites and far, far too brief. Bishara’s writing can certainly stand on its own without that distraction, and I wish it was given more of a chance to do so.

Bonus Factor: Parallel Universes

Parallel universes are def. one of my deal makers. Since some of Ruby’s stays are shorter than others, the book only scratches the surface of some v. interesting possibilities. Esp. for Ruby’s stepsister Kandy, a whole freaking alternative history of the U.S., as well as everything in the darkest timeline.

Bonus Factor: The Butterfly Effect

Movie poster of The Butterfly Effect

Did you know that this shitty movie has, not one, but TWO sequels? And that I have watched both of them? (I feel like neither of these things should surprise you.) Fortunately, the only commonality with this book is the eponymous effect. There are some major differences between the universes, but the subtle nuances intrigue me the most. Which sounds more like Sliding Doors territory, and now I’ve gone full circle with mediocre alternative universe movies.

Casting Call:

If there ever is a movie adaptation, please spare me from voiceovers and the science that lives inside of Ruby’s head.

Relationship Status: Lab Partner — and Nothing More

Book, you have some neat ideas. In fact, I wouldn’t have minded if you dug a little deeper into your theories. BUT. My eyes nearly roll out of their sockets whenever I’m with you. So, uh, let’s sit separately at the caf, OK?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Bloomsbury. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). Relativity will be available on September 10th.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.