Summary: The Code for Love and Heartbreak
In The Code for Love and Heartbreak, Emma Woodhouse, math genius and co-president of her school’s coding club creates dating app for her classmates. Emma has poor social skills and doesn’t read social cues as well as her peers, although it’s never specifically mentioned whether she is on the autism spectrum. She genuinely believes that math and compatibility based on interests will help people find romantic partners. At first, the app is working well, and the entire coding club is on board to present their work at a competition later in the year. But then things start to go downhill.
Some of the boys in the school start misusing the app for their own selfish interests and several of the couples paired also start to break up. Emma is also adjusting to new circumstances at home. Her sister — and closest friend — has moved away to college and her dad who has been a single parent for years seems a bit lonely. Emma is also confused by her feelings for her coding club co-president and childhood friend, George (who matches with a different student, Hannah). How long can Emma hold everything together?
I really liked this young adult novel. I think it has a unique premise and I found the audiobook engaging — the narrator is good! There’s also little to no profanity in this book, which is great if you’re like me and sensitive to profanity. I also liked the slow burn friends-to-lovers relationship between George and Emma, and how realistic their friendship was. This book is heavy on the STEM, where coding is concerned, and I realized that I’ve read very few STEM-related YA books, besides Kat Colmer’s Can’t Beat the Chemistry.
I read that the story is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, but since I haven’t read Emma, I can’t tell you how close both stories are. What I can tell you is that the friendship and family elements are the real high points in this book. Emma goes from friendless and socially avoidant to someone who actually has solid friends and a slightly better grasp on emotions and social cues.
Finally, the love story between George and Emma feels legitimate — she mentions several times the calming effect of his presence, and readers see how attentive he is throughout the story. Even if the story is entirely told from Emma’s perspective, I definitely became a George fan by the end of the story.
Overall: The Code for Love and Heartbreak
The Code for Love and Heartbreak is a sweet, unique young adult novel based on Jane Austen’s classic Emma. Featuring a female math genius with a penchant for algorithms, this book highlights that people aren’t quite as easy to figure out as science or numbers — but they can be even more rewarding. Propelled by a heartwarming cast of coding club misfits and a cute friends-to-lovers romance, this book is perfect for readers who like STEM books, complex heroines, and a sister relationships in stories.
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More YA Book Reviews
- Far from Normal by Becky Wallace
- Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
- 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Have you read this book or any other STEM-related YA books? I’d love to hear what you thought/any other recommendations.
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I am so happy to see more STEM girls in YA, and I was proud of how much Emma grew. She lived safely in her sister’s shadow for so long and was now on her own. I liked the little coding family, the romance was precious, and the ending was fantastic for me.