Monday 27 March 2023

The Love Hypothesis

Finished March 22
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

This is a book I've been meaning to read for a while and now finally have. It was a quick read as it was hard to put down. I read it in one day, around work demands. 
Olive Smith is a Canadian Ph.D. candidate in biology at Stanford, working on a subject dear to her heart, a way to diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier, and thus provide better chances for survival. She is very focused on her work, but still finds time for her personal life, her best friend Anh and her roommate Matthew. 
The book starts with a short interlude from two years earlier when Olive had been at the university applying to do her Ph.D. there. It sets the tone for banter with a serious undertone.
I like that each chapter is headed with a hypothesis that gives a hint to the contents of that chapter. It is a fun way to continue the theme of the title and lead the reader into continuing. 
Olive dated Jeremy a couple of times and then discovered that Anh was interested in him, but wouldn't pursue it because she didn't want to intrude on Olive's relationship. Since Olive had no chemistry with Jeremy and isn't interested in continuing the relationship, she's told Anh to move forward, but Anh is still reluctant. So Olive told her that she had a date with someone else. But she doesn't. She's at the lab working and then she spotted Anh, so she grabs a guy walking in the hall and kisses him. And then she discovers that she has just kissed Dr. Adam Carlsen, a real hotshot in the department who is known for being aloof and not very nice. 
As Adam learns of her reasons for her sudden impulse, he agrees to get on board. The situation may have an upside for him as well. After setting some ground rules and coming up with a plan that works for both, they continue the charade.
Of course, they are thrown together unexpectedly by circumstances, and they talk a lot more, sharing more of themselves with each other than they've done with most other people. 
This situation is one that sets some interesting questions around power dynamics and we see that come up again with other characters. There are also themes of friendship with both main characters and the people who are important in their lives. The science theme is also very interesting, particularly Olive's research which focuses on a disease that touches so many people, myself included. There isn't just a nod to science here, but instead science is central to the plot, as it is central to the lives of the characters. 
The characters themselves also have depth and we discover them as they reveal themselves to each other, seeing beyond the looks and reputation to the real person. 
There is lots of intelligent banter, because they are after all academics and quite smart. So I loved that too. There is also some geekiness, which goes with the territory. And there are real issues, issues of research and how to fund it, issues of women's barriers in science, and issues of competition. 
All in all, a lot to love, and a story that kept me returning to it every chance I got. 

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