How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook
Dates Read: 4/2/19-4/4/19
I’m so disappointed. Honestly, this book just wasn’t what I was hoping it would be and here’s why:
This book follows Helen Clapp, a physicist and professor at MIT, after she learns that her best friend since college, Charlie, passed away after complications from lupus. However, before Helen had known that Charlie had died, she got a text message the day AFTER Charlie had died. This then leads to a 300 page monstrosity that really felt all over the place and incredibly dense and just not good.
So let’s start with my background. I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry during which time I also completed minors in physics and mathematics. I also completed all the required courses for a biochemistry degree but was not proud of the grades so I switched to chemistry (#humblebrag). Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I am all about science. HOWEVER, this book just is not practical for the everyday reader. I love science and I still felt like it was dense. Now don’t get me wrong, Freudenberger explained all the physics so that the lay person could understand it, but it was A LOT. And what sucked the most about it was what little role in played in the actual storyline of the book. If you are going to give me THIS MUCH physics, at least make it more relevant than a metaphor. I NEED MORE. (Side note: Looking at her acknowledgements, it appears that Freudenberger is not from a science background. I think she was trying really hard to go outside of her comfort zone and learn about science because it is awesome (#notsohumblebrag) and I think she threw out all the knowledge she got. Which, again, I get, but I need this information to supplement the story, not the other way around)
As for the storyline itself. If you are going to write a book, then write the book. I don’t mind the overall story arc, I just wish I could have actually seen where I was going. And don’t get me wrong, the majority of this book’s purpose is to show the life of these two women and how their lives not only intersect, but how those memories are part of the grieving process. I have no qualms with that. But if that is your story, then I should not have to wade through so many pages to get to those sections. I just felt like it all got bogged down by everything else that if it wasn’t for the fact that I think retrospectively for this blog, I probably would have not really understood some of what is trying to be said.
So now that I have completely trashed the writing style of the book, let’s talk about what I was thinking beyond this. One of the major ideas that was discussed in the book is the idea of consciousness, soul, and afterlife. My personal knowledge on this topic revolves around a story of a dying man. He was being weighed as he died, and the doctors (I think? I probably should have looked it up but this is low budget) discovered that he weighed significantly (I’m not talking hundreds of pounds or anything, but more than just a blip on the scale essentially) less after dying. This then was “scientific proof” that there is a spirit/soul that leaves the body after death. (Side note: pure fallacy. There was no experiment, no controls, no variables, just one case.) But I remember thinking how bonkers that is, that we have something measurable inside us that makes us us. They talk about very different things involving consciousness in the form of our minds and really philosophical ideas using a scientific backbone, but that anecdote kept bouncing around in my head as I was reading.
I’m realizing how long and whiny this all sounds, I just was really excited. There are few books I read that actually are based on scientific studies and fundamentals, and I truly thought that this book would be able to combine that idea with a good writing style so that even though physics is not necessarily my area of expertise, I could still completely keep up. If it wasn’t for Audible, I probably would not have finished this book. So I give the book 2.5 out of 5. If you have thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave me a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, I will see you all in the next book!
Side note: I was looking on Goodreads to check the dates I read this book and came across the original promotion from BOTM for this book. They listed that this is a challenging read (yea no duh) but that the storyline was worth the dense material. I truly didn’t feel that way, but that is their featured artist’s opinion on the book, and I can respect that. They also say that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (also no duh. Everyone has their own type of tea when it comes to books. You could literally say that about any book you review) and that it is a book you need to take time to appreciate. I’m just saying, the more time I take, the more this book grows as a rash and not a flower, in my personal opinion.