Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation

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Charlie thorne and the last equation book coverWhat the Book is About:

Charlie Thorne is a 12-year-old supergenius who speaks multiple languages and knows more about theoretical physics than her college professor. Her neglectful parents are only interested in her to the extent that they can capitalize on her genius. The CIA isn’t sure if they can trust Charlie, but they also know she may be their best chance at finding Pandora, Einstein’s long-lost equation that can either save the world or destroy it. Charlie’s not sure about the CIA’s intentions, but she knows she can’t let the equation fall into the hands of the white-supremacist group or the traitorous CIA agent who is willing to go to any lengths to get it. Largely set in Israel, this is a fast-paced, action-packed spy novel with gunfights, explosions, dramatic chase scenes, and a lot of suspense!

Jewish Content and Values

  • Much of the book takes place in Israel, including The Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University and the old city of Jerusalem. Einstein’s love of Israel and his support of the burgeoning state are also referenced.
  • Albert Einstein’s commitment to the safety of humanity is central to the plot.
  • Charlie and the CIA agents disagree about whether the equation should be saved (and possibly used to solve some of the world’s biggest problems) or destroyed (and thus permanently kept out of the hands of terrorists and other bad actors). While this question remains unresolved at the end of the book, it is an excellent example of machaloket l’shem shamayim (an argument for the sake of the heavens), a debate that isn’t about winning or losing, but rather focused on identifying a fundamental truth or solving an important problem.

Positive Role Models

  • Over the course of the book, Charlie Thorne evolves from a fairly self-focused child into an individual who is aware of her gifts and her responsibility to use them for the betterment of humanity. She is smart, creative, and resilient in the face of overwhelming threats.
  • Although he dies in the prologue, Albert Einstein is an important character throughout the story. Readers will learn about his brilliance, compassion, humor, and dedication to creating a safer world for everyone.
  • Charlie’s half-brother, Dante Garcia, is a CIA agent with a strong moral compass. He is tough on Charlie and pushes her to be a better person even as he is fiercely protective of her.
  • Milana Moon is a Native American CIA agent who is a mentor to Charlie while also protecting her and remaining loyal to the CIA.

Content Advisory

This is a fast-paced, action-packed spy novel with serious bad guys (white supremacists who express distasteful views of various groups and who want to blow up cities around the world), as well as fight scenes and a CIA agent who betrays his own country. There are explosions, shootouts, and physical fights throughout the book, and a short description of the aftermath of a nuclear explosion as imagined by one of the terrorists. There is a brief reference to the use of box cutters in the 9/11 attacks. Finally, a number of American and Israeli agents are killed, and the villain dies in a fire (although there aren’t any graphic descriptions of the deaths).

Talk it Over

If you found an equation like Pandora that had the power to both save the world (by solving the energy and climate crises) and also potentially destroy it (through nuclear explosions), what would you do with that equation? Would you destroy it? Would you keep it, and if so, which people, agencies, or governments would you give it to?

More for You

The Mossad (formally known as HaMossad LeModi’in U’LeTafkidim Meyuchadim, or The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations) is the national intelligence agency of Israel, responsible for intelligence collections, covert operations, and counterterrorism. The Mossad was created by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion at the end of 1949, approximately one and a half years after the founding of the state. Based in Tel Aviv, the Mossad runs operations around the world. Their motto is “Where no wise direction is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety” (Psalms, 11:14). The Mossad’s most famous undertakings include the 1960 capture of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires and the 1977 rescue of Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan. Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service by Michael Ben-Zohar and Nissim Mishal offers a deep and riveting history of the Mossad and their most famous missions.

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