The Avery Shaw Experiment – Kelly Oram

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This is one of the first e-books I read on my iPad. The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram is a diary-style book that switches focus every chapter between the two main characters: Avery Shaw and Grayson Kennedy.

It’s quite a typical topic for a Young Adult novel: the popular, handsome jock falls in love with the socially awkward nerdy girl. But, I think Kelly Oram plays with this theme to such an extent that she practically creates her own genre.

There is a little bit of everything in The Avery Shaw Experiment. We see how badly parents can warp their children, Avery deals with her heartbreak, there’s the whole “girl you never noticed” thing going on (from both sides: Aiden never realised what he had until he lost it, and Grayson never saw her as anything else than a little sister but realises on time that she is so much more), we see Aiden dealing with his best-friendship when he gets a girlfriend, Avery going through the grieving process, … There are so much different levels to this book, yet the storyline is kept very clear.

Basically, Avery and Aiden have been best friends all their lives (forced together by their moms since before birth). Avery has been in love with Aiden for years, but has been afraid to tell him. She thinks “he just hasn’t ever considered the possibility of a relationship between [them]. Maybe he hasn’t hit that level of maturity yet. It’s not like he’s ever gone out with anyone else. He never talks about any other girls.” So when he then tells her he needs space, is quitting the science club (which they co-chair) and their science fair project and that he has a girlfriend; you can see why she’s so crushed.

At that point, she turns a little melodramatic in my opinion (even if she is diagnosed with social anxiety disorder) and decides to do her project on the stages of grief (comparing heartbreak to loss). She enlists the help of super hunky jock Grayson (who also happens to be Aiden’s brother) to help her out as an “impartial observer”. Grayson agrees because when Avery was devastated after the break-up and came to him for comfort, he realised she wasn’t a little girl (or like a little sister to him) anymore and fell in love with her, saying: “when a girl lets you be the one to hold her as her entire world falls apart, even though you’re ass naked, it changes the way you see her” (ass-naked because he was taking a shower when she hid from her mother in the bathroom). I think it’s supercute how he uses the experiment and science in general as an excuse to kiss her and start dating her. But behind all of that, he is really concerned about her and wants to help her out. He gets her out of her shell, is really considerate of her and her feelings and because of that she changes a lot. Aiden even admits later on that she hasn’t had many anxiety attacks and that she seemed truly happy. Grayson achieves what he set out to do: “When I’m through with her, Avery Shaw will be a fully functional, beautiful, self-confident, emotionally stable young woman who is ready to experience actual real love”.

Slowly, Avery fights her way through the 7 stages of grief (which I think is a really original way of showing how to deal with heartbreak) and meanwhile she and Grayson fall in love. At the end (after talking things out with Aiden) she realises she was never in love with him in the first place. This sentiment was expressed best by Grayson (in the second prologue): “To Avery, Aiden is familiar and safe. She translates those feelings of security into being in love with him because it’s easier than seeing them for what they really are – a crutch she uses to cope with her shyness and social issues.”

I know, I know, a very long summary of the story, but there’s a lot of elements that need to be mentioned. It’s such a complicated yet simple story. Now what did I think? I have two words: cute and orignal. This book could have turned out as your typical high school YA novel, but weaving science through the story really made it stand out. The entire experiment is scientific, and Grayson is constantly using it as an excuse to get close to her. Avery is quite nerdy and scientific, so she responds best to analytical and scientific reasoning, which is used on her by Aiden and Grayson throughout the story. The fact that every chapter switches between Grayson and Avery’s view also changes up things and allows us to look at the story from both sides and completing the picture. I also call this book cute because the way Grayson handles Avery is just too cute. Like I’ve already mentioned, he knows her very well and uses that information to help her get over his brother and prepare her for a real relationship (preferably with him). He is very considerate with her social anxiety and finds ways to deal with it (usually by distracting her with their sexual tension).

So in conclusion, would I recommend this book? If you are looking for a fun, cute read with a happy ending that is surprisingly funny despite the sometimes emotionally heavy scenes, ABSOLUTELY! What I haven’t mentioned yet: this book will not make you cry, because the heartbreak is clear from the get-go and Grayson’s chapters masterfully alleviate the tension. Grayson is also very funny and even Avery can surprise you – which translates into a lot of funny, and even hilarious scenes. A story that could have been heavy, depressing and oh-so-clichéd is turned into a light, cute, funny, original book.

Have you guys read it yet? What did you think? Let me know 🙂

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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