The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: The Universal Laws Of Marco
Summary: Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.
In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.
And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.
And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.
And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:
Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his friends and making money to help support his family.
But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.
*Requested ARC through the publisher*
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: The Universal Laws Of Marco is a YA Contemporary that follows Marco Suarez in his senior year of high school, who has everything planned out! But, he wasn’t expecting his best friend Sally to return so suddenly, after disappearing before freshman year! With this complicating the plan he’s set for himself, we also delve into the past to unravel what happened between Sally & Marco! Carmen Rodrigues crafts a character-driven and thought-provoking story you don’t want to miss!
Carmen Rodrigues’s The Universal Laws Of Marco is probably one of the most underhyped YA Contemporary books I’ve seen & read so far this year! If your looking for a contemporary story that’s real, moving, impactful, while also having a focus on friendship, love, & family, then this is the book to pick up! It’s really good!
Marco Suarez has everything planned his senior year, his scholarship is set for Wayne University in the fall, he’s working a job at a local supermarket with his best friend Diego & has a girlfriend, Erika!
But his life gets a bit more complicated when his first love & genius track star, Sally Blake returns suddenly, after leaving right before the start of 9th grade and never keeping in-touch.
So with Sally’s return, Marco still can’t ignore that first spark! Sally and Marco have been best friends since they were little and nothing kept them apart. Things change during summer before 8th Grade when Sally & Marco kiss. But throughout that last year of middle school, there are moments that cause Sally and Marco to drift apart, up until Sally leaves.
I know I mentioned this already, but this is easily one of the most underrated YA Contemporary releases I’ve read so far this year!! Its not just a story about reminiscing on first-love, its about change, growth, family, friendship, choices, life, and the moments in life that shape who we are.
Because I spent weeks reading The Universal Laws Of Marco, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when I reached the end because I’d become so attached to the characters, connect with themes of the story, & overall just really fell in love with the book as a whole!
Rodrigues delivers such an immersive and especially character-driven story as we jump between Marco’s past/middle school years with Sally, up until her disappearance. Through this POV, we unravel that mystery as to what led Sally to leave not only Marco, but their entire friend group: Sookie, Jade, & Diego!
While in the present, we follow not only Marco’s school life, but also his family: mother, little brothers, and father, who hasn’t been quite himself since an accident that happened during Marco’s last year of middle school (which gets explored throughout the story).
Another mysterious plot point that gets unraveled throughout the story, was the injury that left Marco’s dad not entirely himself for the past few years. It was heart-breaking to read about and how it changed the Suarez family so much (also with Marco having to take up even more responsibility to help the family through financially tough times).
I loved that although the rest of the friend group was unsure whether to let Sally back in, Marco was still trying to reconnect with her even after they drifted apart. Though this novel is really Marco’s story, it’s also Sally’s story too! Because we learn so much about her through Marco’s eyes and how he was such an important part in her life, that when we see that Sally again, we notice that she really is still recovering from those years after she left and above all, just doesn’t want to be alone.
It broke my heart because, although Marco was with Erika, he obviously never forgot Sally, but was just so unsure of how to approach her again. He struggles throughout the story trying to reconnect with her because she too also feels guilty about leaving them behind and returning when so much has changed.
While Marco was with Erika, I felt both sad & happy for him at the same time! After learning Erika’s backstory and how she impacted Sally’s dynamic with Marco in the past, you also don’t feel upset with her either because she was there for Marco during his dad’s recovery. This was during a time when Marco was feeling lost and alone not only about his dad & how it impacted the family, but also with Sally no longer there.
The use of alternate past/present POV was so well done! I never felt lost jumping back between the two timelines and the way Rodrigues plotted them both out was brilliantly explored, because it kept me guessing as to what led Sally to leave, how Marco would try to reconnect with her again, and still remembering how close they used to be!
Although the summary puts a focus on the romance, that’s not really what this story is about! Its about so much more than that, I can’t really put it into words. There’s definitely an uncertainty if Sally and Marco will ever fully reconnect again and Rodrigues did such a phenomenal job at really leaving the reader guessing where their relationship would be headed.
There’s also such a big focus on friendship that you wouldn’t really know just based on the summary! Marco & Diego’s friendship is also one of the highlights of this book! It has its ups/downs, moments of humor, but it also explores trust, communication, and the support of friends that’s incredibly important during complicated moments in life! Its explored mainly through a sub-plot where Marco & Diego are unknowingly after the same job of manager, when Marco decides not to tell Diego out of fear it would ruin their friendship.
The writing itself is fantastic! I never once felt out of the story and was immediately brought back into the plot through Marco’s POV! With Marco’s love of physics, I also loved how terms/concepts really weaved their way into the story to make it incredibly thought-provoking and realistic!
As for diversity, this novel centers around a Cuban-American family (Marco’s), Diego, Marco’s best friend whose Dominican, & Sookie another one of Marco’s friends, whose Korean, Jewish and adopted.
Overall, everything about this book from the writing, characters, character-development, themes, dynamics, and pacing made this book feel so incredibly real and relatable in ways I can’t really explain.
My only minor issue was that pacing was a bit slow in parts, but aside from that, this was a phenomenal YA Contemporary and I recommend everyone read it if their looking for a real and thought-provoking story!
The Universal Laws Of Marco is a remarkable YA Contemporary with so much depth and one deserves a lot more love! It explores a variety of themes from family to friendship, while also being a relatable contemporary story which stresses the moments in life and people within it, that change our lives! The Universal Laws Of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues is more than just contemporary romance and is a YA novel well worth reading!!