The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen

Fitzroy Books Titles
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Winner of the 2023 Minnesota Book Awards (YA category)

Silver winner of the 2023 Foreword Book Awards (YA category)

Set on a small and struggling family dairy operation in southern Minnesota, The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen follows fifteen-year-old Carl as he confronts his crush on Andy Olnan, a handsome and confident but secretive “city boy” recently transplanted to farm life from Minneapolis, who may or may not share the same feelings. At the same time, Carl and his father clash over the future of their farm, a legacy of Carl’s late mother: how do they honor her dream for the family while also ensuring financial security? Carl discovers his own resilience in the face of grief, adult-sized decisions, and unrequited love, and along the way learns to cope with both the challenges and rewards of being different.

Praise for The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen

“In this engrossing coming of age story, Carl, a teenager living with his family on a Minnesota dairy farm grapples with first love, the loss of his mother, and his distanced relationship with his father. Peter’s intimate and nuanced portrayal of Carl’s romantic feelings for the charismatic and mysterious new student, Andy, and the hopes Carl has for a more authentic connection with those around him is deeply honest and endearing. An inspiring story about the courage it takes to be your whole self no matter what.”

– Veera Hiranandani, author of the Newbery Honor winning The Night Diary

“Carl Paulsen wants to belong to this world, broken though it may be. There is a magic in this book, magic that makes us feel we are in this young man’s heart as he struggles to find his place in the world. The words shimmer with gentle, heartbreaking empathy. The result is a beautiful piece of fiction, sure to make anyone who reads it feel less alone.”

– N. West Moss, author of Flesh and Blood and The Subway Stops at Bryant Park

“With insight and grace, Gary Eldon Peter explores the big questions: Who am I? Who will I be? And who will I let truly know me? This novel’s gentleness is underlain with the absolute determination of a quiet teenager’s quest for self-identity.”

– Alison McGhee, author of Where We Are and What I Leave Behind

“Meet Carl Paulsen – he’s not rich, urban, or ‘fabulous.’ He’s a farm boy devoted to his cows, his younger sister, and his widowed father (in that order). When Carl meets Andy Olnan, the new boy in town, everything suddenly changes, just like that moment in West Side Story when Maria meets Tony. I absolutely loved this fresh, unpredictable, and heartrending-but-hopeful book. Funny, sad, closeted farm kid Carl Paulsen is my new best friend.”

– Brian Malloy, author of The Year of Ice and After Francesco