Book Review: The DNA of You and Me

The DNA of You and Me

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.

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.

I loved that this book was involved in science and was a romance in a lab. The author clearly knows her stuff and had many detailed scientific explanations for what was being studied in the lab. I found this part of the book really interesting.
Unfortunately, the romance part of the book didn’t do it for me. I liked Emily well enough right up until she decides to compromise her scientific work so that she can keep the man she likes around. And then when her and Aeden do get together, their relationship is so strange as to be emotionally abusive, but she is willing to go with it because she loves him.
That was that for me and this book.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ for a review copy of this book.
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