Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge

biologyI can’t believe this is the second book in a row I read in which there was a sainted older mother/grandmother who I didn’t like. However, unlike in Sweet Love, it was not so troublesome to me, nor central to the story.  I was very drawn to this book because the premise is that a woman, married 24 years old, finds out that her husband doesn’t believe their marriage is that great, she freaks out and panics, and flees. She winds up in Seattle working in a coffee shop and living in a tiny apartment.  These stories always appeal  to me (I had romantic fantasties as a young twentysomething of just leaving everything behind and going to Montana. I think reality would not have matched the story in my head) and one of my very favorite books is Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler (a wonderful novel which I highly recommend.)

During her time away Mira must confront memories of her marriage, her sexuality, her desire to be perfect, and her role in her large family.  I really enjoyed the quirky characters and Mira’s journey to a new start.  I definitely had some issues with her and her need to apologize to everyone (dude-your husband is having a relationship with someone else, you should not be apologizing to your daughter and father about it.) and her extremely hasty decision. However, if she had not made such a hasty decision she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be by herself and figure who she is (or rather, used to be and lost sight of.) Also, the fact is that even though her decision to leave was hasty and I think she should have talked to her husband more, in the end she was right that she needed to be away and that their marriage was not all she thought it was.  Mira is a biology teacher and the title comes from her thinking about love and sex as biological functions.  In fact, Mira’s sexuality is practically a character unto itself in the story.

I’m looking forward to talking about this at book group in a couple of days. As a novel I thought it was well written and constructed, well paced, and I liked how the author used flashbacks to build a bigger picture of Mira and her family.

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