ABOUT THE BOOK:
How does smell work? Specifically, how
Emily was born focused and driven. She’s always been more comfortable staring down the barrel of a microscope than making small talk with strangers. Competition doesn’t scare her. Her special place is the lab, where she analyzes DNA sequences, looking for new genes that might be involved in guiding olfactory neurons to their targets.
To Emily’s great surprise, her rational mind is unsettled by
A sharp, relevant novel that speaks to the ambitions and desires of modern women, The DNA of You and Me explores the evergreen question of career versus family, the irrational sensibility of love, and whether one can be a loner without a diagnostic label.
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BEWARE! POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman
The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman is a 2019 William Morrow publication.
The setup here is interesting and original-
Emily was raised by her father, a man much like herself, who was very single minded. However, he often encouraged her to get out and make friends and be more sociable. However, an allergy related to the smell of cut grass, kept her indoors during the summer months, putting a damper on her ability to hang out with other people. Still, Emily preferred to keep to herself, and her few attempts to fit in with her peers, were an epic fail.
Yet, it was her own personal experience that encouraged her drive to study olfactory receptors located in the nasal cavity- otherwise known as the sense of smell. Her research, she hopes, will lead to treatment for, or a cure for Anosmia.
Fresh out of school, Justin, the lab manager, gives Emily the opportunity to work in his lab. However, he fails to mention that the lab already has two scientists working on a project very similar to Emily’s. One of those academics, is
Can someone as driven as Emily, fully commit herself to marriage and children? Could she balance that life with her demanding and single- minded devotion to her career? Are some people better off alone, or should love take precedence over success?
The one thing I worried about before starting this book, the heavy use of scientific jargon, turned out to be the very least of my concerns. While I didn’t fully understand all of it, I was able to grasp the general idea and it never once took me out of the story. In fact, the book is an easy read, so easy, in fact, I knew read it in one sitting.
However, there are two issues weighing on me.
While love is the emotion this novel is centered around, this is not a romance novel, nor is it a love story, per se, (unless you are including warped ones, like Wuthering Heights), although it has been categorized as such. I would advise against approaching this novel in such a way, to be honest. Perhaps, contemporary fiction would be the most appropriate category, with the possibility of adding ‘women’s fiction’ as a runner up.
The second thing I feel compelled to mention is a disturbing scene, in which Emily and
I am very uncomfortable with that passage. It is not the type of sexual activity they are engaging in that bothers me. They are two adults after all. However, the question is, are they two CONSENTING adults. There was a question mark there in my opinion, and I still feel weird about it.
As for my opinion of the story, as a whole, in my humble opinion, this story is a character study, an examination of what happens to our normal, rational, clear- headed thinking process when we fall in love. The complicated and cutthroat world of academia, where ambition and competition rule the day, makes these changes even more striking, and for Emily, they are confusing. Women are often the ones, more than men, who must make the tough decisions about their career when marriage and children present themselves. Men it seems, seldom feel pressured in this same way.
Yet, for Emily, the problem is even more compounded by her social awkwardness, and the hint that she presents on the autism spectrum. She questions if she is better suited to living alone, could she make her partner happy, could she do or be what is expected or required of her from an intimate long-term relationship?
He wants Emily to choose love over success. However, his methods are manipulative, immature, and not something one does, if they really love someone. One could argue, he made choices he thought were in Emily’s best interest, but I’m afraid I disagree. You can’t force someone to be something they aren’t, or you will both wind up being miserable.
Ultimately, I found the story to be interesting, fascinating, and utterly absorbing. It gave me a lot of food for thought. Even though I am a hard-wired romantic, I was proud of Emily in the end. She did the right thing, even in her eventual forgiveness, which gives her permission to finally move ahead, emotionally. And because of my die hard romanticism, I’m convinced that lightning will strike twice for our Emily, and that maybe she is not destined to be alone, after all.
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