Written by Melissa Keil
Contemporary, Diverse, Romance
Published April 1st 2017
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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The unsolvable problem. If Sophia is a genius, why can’t she crack the puzzle of what to do with her life?Fact. Sophia is smart. As in, certified child prodigy, breezing through uni subjects even though she's only in year twelve, smart. This terrifies her, because geniuses have a tendency to end up as recluses and weirdos, and with her current social ineptness, she’s halfway there already.Truth. Joshua is good at magic tricks, ignoring most things about year twelve, and not thinking at all about life after high school.Fact. Sophia can’t even talk to her best friend Elsie about her anxieties, because Elsie is firmly focused on her own future, and on plans that will mean leaving Sophia behind.Truth. Joshua has had a secret crush on Sophia since forever, but he doesn’t have forever to act on it.Fact. There are some things no amount of genius can prepare you for... And the messiness of the real world is one of them.Truth. Timing is everything.
Sophia is a quiet achiever. Intelligent and a highly decorated student, seventeen year old Sophie is facing an existential crisis, feeling fatigued, adrift and socially anxious. Joshua is an illusionist, deceptively disguised as an enigma and enamoured with shy and reserved Sophie. Living their lives parallel to one another, Joshua believes in the impossible while Sophie the probability of statistics. Until a Melbourne University open day brings Joshua and Sophie together, unexpectedly.
Australian with Sri Lankan heritage, Sophia is an intelligent young woman, a prodigy mathematician enduring debilitating social anxiety and becoming increasingly infatuated with Grigori Perelman, a recluse Russian mathematician. Sophia is a wonderful character, ingenious and accomplished which often leads to a lack of perception. Unlike Elsie who is leaving for the United States, Sophia isn't optimistic about university and consistently devalues her own intuition. The depiction of Sophia's social anxiety was wonderfully portrayed. As her narrative progressed, she begun to recognise how her anxiety manifested but also sought professional guidance. The tension between Sophia and her brother Toby furthered Sophia's anxiety, especially spending time with Elise and the effortless relationship with her siblings.
Joshua is enchanting. As an illusionist he believes in the impossible. Joshua doesn't place importance on his education and is ostracised by his peers. He's a modest young man who has been captivated by Sophia since the tender age of thirteen but as an introvert, feels intimidated by Sophia's presence. I loved the relationship Joshua shared with thirteen year old sibling Gillian, who has perfected teenage angst. Often a formidable presence, Joshua continues to persist to rebuild his relationship with Gillian despite her defiance.
The romance was captivating and a wonderful progression from a gentle, tentative friendship. Discounting the student body, Joshua has a wonderful company of friends who are accepting, supportive and encouraging. I appreciated how Joshua allowed Sophia to set the boundaries of their friendship, understanding that it was important for Sophia to remain in control of her societal environment due to her anxiety.
The Secret Science of Magic is magnificent. A charming coming of age narrative of existing within the moment. Phenomenally sublime. Magical.