Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe


Jennie Shortridge's third novel, Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe, is the first one I've had the pleasure of laying hands on. I can assure you it won't be the last. Admittedly, the delectable cover was the first thing that drew me in. You book lovers know what I'm talking about. Some covers look edible, lickable, and give us the munchies.

I'm happy to report that the material between the covers is also sweet but not saccharine. It's the story of Mira Serafino, a 45-year-old teacher, wife, and mother who appears to have the perfect life--and the perfect big Italian family. When she finds out about her husband's indiscretion her life spirals out of control. In a flurry, she hits the road without a clue as to where she's going and eventually settles in Seattle when her car breaks down. She finds herself out of touch with her sullen daughter and the rest of the bunch and working at the Coffee Shop at the Center of the Universe, living in a microscopic apartment, all the while wondering where her life is going.

Mira's split from her husband and her new adventures in singledom also leave her contemplating her own sexuality. She reminisces over her past experiences, the secrets she's kept all her life, and the possibility of stepping into an intimate relationship with someone besides her college boyfriend-turned-husband, Parker. That explains the "biology" part of the title.

This book was a nice blend of humor, drama, and romance. My favorite part of the book was definitely Mira's life in Seattle. She quickly figures out that life's unexpected twists and turns can be liberating and fun. She meets a slew of quirky characters...the kids that work in the coffee shop, the regular patrons, the odd owner, and she even dips her toe into a new romance. Her work at the coffee shop made me hungry much of the time as Shortridge describes the drinks Mira mixes, the pastries she brings into the shop, and her grandmother's soups that she begins to whip up and sell to the customers. I found Mira much more likable and funny when she was bumbling through her life. Much like her estranged daughter, Thea, I felt Mira was trying too hard to be perfect in her everyday life, and it was only when she hit rock bottom that she began to have a good time and take some chances. Outside her small town and the reach of her obligations she could try on a new identity. Who hasn't wanted to at least try that at some point?

While I liked Mira and the majority of the other characters, I found Thea a little bit unbelievable at times. I don't know if it was Shortridge's use of slang to make the daughter sound authentic or what, but it kind of bugged me. The more I read and got to know the characters, the less I noticed, though. It was a small hurdle, but certainly not enough to make me dislike the book.
If you're in the mood for a tasty, joyful, uplifting story, give Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe a chance. You'll turn the last page with a smile and a craving for a tall white chocolate mocha. Or maybe that's just me...

Visit Jennie Shortridge's website.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the very kind words about the book! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

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  2. Sounds like a great read. I really enjoyed your review. I think I'll check this book out.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  3. I've been wanting to read this in the worst way - I've seen so many good reviews. These are the kinds of stories I love - women placed in a tricky situation and the strenghts and friendships they develop as they work their way out from under.

    And I agree, the cover on this one is delectable!

    Thanks for the great review!

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  4. I've glanced at this book at work, but really didn't know what it was about. Now I know I want to read it! Anything to do with food, set in Seattle, is my cuppa!! This sounds like a winner to me, Andi. Thanks for the review. Now to snag a copy...

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  5. I read one of her books, last year, and enjoyed it immensely.

    And, Andiiiii. Crap! I missed your birthday! No, I didn't say another bad word. I don't do that, being sweet and all. So sorry. Belated birthday wishes to you!!!

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  6. You're welcome, Jennie! It was a joy to read.

    Anna, I hope you enjoy it when you get around to it.

    Becca, I think you'd adore this one.

    LOL, Les! The food and the Seattleness were great!

    Nancy, you always make me giggle. Thank you muchly for the belated birthday wishes. :D

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  7. Great review, Andi! I will be posting my review for the tour this coming Wednesday. I enjoyed Love and Biology too. It wasn't quite what I expected--but definitely in a good way.

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