My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth is the robot-building YA romance novel I have been waiting for. Spotlighting women in STEM, I loved the main character’s transformation throughout the book as she begins to view herself as having a place on the team and in the field, and her experiences are realistic. The author also draws attention to the difficulties women face in these male-dominated spaces, which provides great balance to the romance at the story’s centre. This is a cute and empowering read that I’m sure will resonate with many.Title: My Mechanical Romance
Author: Alexene Farol Follmuth
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
Opposites attract in this battle-robot-building YA romance from the NYT best-selling author of The Atlas Six.
Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn't seem to like her either.
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they've made more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made each other and the team better. Because girls do belong in STEM.
In her YA debut, Alexene Farol Follmuth, author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake), explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty. With an adorable, opposites-attract romance at its center and lines that beg to be read aloud, My Mechanical Romance is swoonworthy perfection.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth
After transferring schools in her senior year, Bel struggles with college applications and mapping out her future. However, when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering, a teacher pushes her to join the robotics club, giving her the opportunity to apply her skills and explore the field. The school’s robotics club seems interesting enough, except the boys on the team ignore Bel, the only other girl doesn’t like her, and she can’t seem to get along with Theo, the club’s captain. As Bel works toward building a robot for a national competition, she slowly realizes she has a place on the team and in STEM, and that she has more in common with Theo than she initially thought.
❀ Empowering Main Character
I enjoyed Bel’s character, and I found her journey of self-discovery empowering. Her situation is relatable for so many women, as she is incredibly smart but has never been encouraged to seriously consider engineering as a career path. As the book takes place during her senior year, she also struggles with college applications and making major life choices, which are depicted realistically. I loved reading about Bel’s gradual realization that she does belong on the robotics team, and I appreciated this representation of women in STEM.
❀ Real Discussions About Being a Woman of Colour in STEM
What I especially enjoyed about this one is the way it balances the sweetness of Bel and Theo’s relationship with very real discussions about being a woman of colour in STEM. Throughout the book, Bel’s intelligence is discounted, and in competitions, she is viewed by many as simply “diversity points” for the team. Bel must work twice as hard to prove herself as a capable competitor, and I enjoyed the way she stays strong and smashes the competition every time. Another plus for me was the way Neelam, the other woman on the team, has different experiences than Bel. I have to admit, I didn’t necessarily agree with the reason why she dislikes Bel, or rather the extent of this dislike, but she eventually won me over, and I liked the plurality of their experiences.
❀ Relatable and Honest
My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth is a sweet and empowering story about a robot-building competition. I loved the representation of women in STEM, and the main character is realistic. At the centre of the story is a discussion of the unequal treatment women face in the field, making this one a relatable and honest read with both social commentary and a cute romance.