Summary: Upon learning that her college sweetheart husband has been seeing another woman, Mira Serafino’s once perfect world is shattered and she wants no one, least of all her big Italian family, to know. She takes off—with no destination and little money—heading north until her car breaks down in Seattle. There she takes a job at the offbeat Coffee Shop at the Center of the Universe, where she’ll experience a terrifying but invigorating freedom, and meet someone she’ll come to love: the new Mira. -- NAL/Penguin
When TLC Book Tours announced that they were scheduling the Book Tour for LOVE AND BIOLOGY AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE by Jennie Shortridge, I signed up immediately. I had read many wonderful reviews of this book, and I have to admit that I was attracted to the cover. Either way, I really wanted to read this book! I also thought the premise behind the novel -- that a middle-aged woman finds out her husband is seeing another woman and leaves her family only to re-discover herself -- sounded very interesting.
I was expecting to really enjoy this novel, and I did. I liked that this story had a woman in her mid-forties as the main character -- she was just a normal wife, daughter and mother who was living her life and always trying to make everyone else happy. I found this book to be unique in that it was a type of coming-of-age novel, except instead of a young protangonist "finding" him/herself, it was a middle-aged female character. I think so many women out there could see parts of themselves in Mira or relate (at least in some part) to her. And for those of us who are Type A women who want it all, some things about Mira and her family really resonated.
I thought Ms. Shortridge did an excellent job with the mother-daughter conflict in this novel. As the mother of a nine year old daughter, I can see the potential for some tension as she approaches the pre-teen and teenage years; however, I hope (and pray) that it never comes to this point -- Mira and her daughter's relationship brought these normal mother-daughter issues to an entirely new level. Not only did I appreciate how Ms. Shortridge handled the conflict between Mira and her daughter, but I also liked how she eventually had both of them comes to terms with their issues and learn to respect each other.
This novel most certainly evoked many emotions in me while I read it. At times, I found myself terribly angry and frustrated with Mira for how she handled things, but then I would suddenly think things over and begin to feel sorry for her. (I have to admit that I can't imagine leaving my family and starting over in a new town with a new job.) I loved how the author was able to make me both laugh and cry with Mira as she discovered new things about herself and her life. As I read this book, I definitely felt as if I got to know and appreciate both the old, as well as the new, Mira.
I think Ms. Shortridge really did a wonderful job of writing this novel; and I can't wait to read more of her work. Her next book will be available in November 2009 and it looks like a good one (you can read more about it here.) Ms. Shortridge has a terrific website which entertained me for quite awhile -- I especially loved the section where she listed her reading list. It's chock full of good book recommendations (as if I need more to add to my TBR list.)
LOVE AND BIOLOGY AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE would make an excellent selection for many book clubs. I think there are so many issues to discuss; and it would be so interesting to hear what other women would have to say about Mira's story. I'm pretty sure that if my book club read this book, we wouldn't have any problem finding things to talk about (and I can bet that we all wouldn't agree either so that would make it extra fun.) You can read the discussion questions here as well as an interesting interview with the author.
If you'd like to read more about LOVE AND BIOLOGY AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE or Jennie Shortridge, here's the upcoming schedule for the book tour :
Saturday, November 1st: Estella’s Revenge
Monday, November 3rd: Booking Mama
Wednesday, November 5th: She is Too Fond of Books
Friday, November 7th: Curly Wurly Gurly
Monday, November 10th: Fizzy Thoughts
Wednesday, November 12th: Tripping Toward Lucidity
Friday, November 14th: Literarily
Monday, November 17th: Shelf Life
Wednesday, November 19th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, November 21st: Bookshipper
Monday, November 24th: Minds Alive on the Shelves
Wednesday, November 26th: Book Addiction
Sunday, November 30th: B & b ex libris
Make sure you check back tomorrow because Jennie Shortridge will be stopping by with a wonderful guest post!