THE DNA OF YOU AND ME
by Andrea Rothman
A smart debut novel—a wonderfully engaging infusion of Lab Girl, The Assistants, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine—that pits the ambition of scientific discovery against the siren call of love.
“I’m asking you to choose me, Emily. That’s what I’m asking you to do, to choose us.”
How does smell work? Specifically, how do olfactory sensory neurons project to their targets in the olfactory bulb, where smell is processed? Justin McKinnon has hired fresh-faced graduate student Emily to study that question. What Justin hasn’t told Emily is that two other scientists in the lab, Aeden and Allegra, are working on a very similar topic, and their findings may compete with her research.
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 Aeden. As they shift from competitors to colleagues, and then to something more, Emily allows herself to see a future in which she doesn’t end up alone. But when Aeden decides to leave the lab, it becomes clear to Emily that she must make a choice: follow her research or follow her heart.
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.
The DNA of You and Me
This one surprised me. There is a lot of science in it and for those like me, who love research and who regularly devour articles and books on neuroscience, is fascinating to read. The love story is quite different, and though it is spread throughout the book, the primary focus is Emily and her quest to discover the DNA gene that guides our sense of smell. As expected, a lot comes with that quest. Some good. Some not so good. Yet, there is power in perseverance and many lessons in the way one human being interacts with another, and in what they are willing to sacrifice to achieve the things they want.
Emily is a unique character, in that respect. Her quest is acutely personal, and the way her brain works is captivating because she has trouble relating to others, but also has needs that she fights to fulfill. She doesn’t understand the nuisances of human interaction the way most people do and as such, she lives more in her head than in her heart. She has obsessive tendencies and as a reader, there were times when I didn’t like her very much. There were other times, however, when I empathized with her and wished more for her.
If you’re looking for a well-written and totally unconventional love story (not a romance but a love story), The DNA of You and Me is a great read. I started out a little apprehensive about it, to be honest with you, but once I allowed myself to settle in and focus, I devoured the book in a matter of hours, and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
Special thank you to William Morrow (HarperCollins) for mailing the book in for my review.
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What people are saying…
“Rothman’s first novel is a powerful one. Great for readers who would enjoy a surprisingly literary love story set against the clinical, sterile, and cutthroat environment of an academic research lab.”
Library Journal, starred review
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“[A] sharp debut from Rothman sets a bittersweet love story within the cut-throat world of academic research, a great pairing she explores with heart, smarts, and a lot of furtive sex. Rothman’s aching study of loneliness, heartbreak and forgiveness resonates.”
Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
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“A vivid sense of place and a well-paced, intelligently constructed story.”
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“With crisp descriptions and keen observations, author and neuroscientist Rothman creates a realistic picture of the life of a scientific researcher…fresh and intelligent.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrea Rothman is a fiction writer and former research scientist. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She is passionate about books, people, and recycling, and enjoys writing fiction about science and the future. She lives in Long Island with her husband and two children.