Published by Little, Brown on July 2nd 2013
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Self-deprecating, lifelong nerd Eric Mueller has spent years attempting to apply the tricks of computer coding, which has earned him millions of dollars, to women. As a freshman in high school, Eric keeps a notebook filled with data on potential girlfriends. The list’s only requirement: “Would I prefer to be involved with her or to graduate high school without ever acquiring a girlfriend?” In his adulthood, Eric is better able to turn his awkwardness into charm, but will he allow his feelings to override facts when he meets the perfect girl?
“I hover while they catch up, trying to look like I’m part of the conversation. Eventually he turns to me. ‘How’s it going, Eric?’ he says.
‘Not much,’ I say. I always get the easy ones wrong.”
Roth opens The Unknowns at a party, which is a perfect setup for Eric’s fumbling wit, but also allows readers to watch his acute sense of observation at work. In hilarious anecdotes, Eric takes notes on the people around him, mastering the art of partygoing and, eventually, picking up women.
Throughout the novel Roth flashes between Eric’s teenage years, as he navigates the social waters of high school, and 2002, where he is dealing with a budding romance. It is in the later storyline that the book takes a surprising, but spot-on, turn. Rather than a comedic tale of a nerd’s coming of age, this change takes The Unknowns a step deeper.
Roth uses an insightful, funny voice to bring Eric’s character to life, while giving him the depth to explore more than just the surface of relationships. The Unknowns is a great little book you will find yourself peeling through, looking forward to the next laugh.
Don’t believe it’s funny? Take a peek at Gabriel Roth’s great trailer for the book: