Monday, September 30, 2019

CRC Blog Analysis on Andrea Rothman's THE DNA OF YOU AND ME

*The images in this specific piece are granted copyright privilege by:  Public Domain, CCSAL, GNU Free Documentation Licenses, Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law, or given copyright privilege by the copyright holder which is identified beneath the individual photo.

**Some of the links will have to be copied and then posted in your search engine in order to pull up properly

CRC Blog Analysis
by Andrea Rothman
“Settling For One Box Is Overrated”

 Motherhood is overrated, if you ask me. Human company is overrated”
Emily Apell, The DNA of You and Me, page 156
Emily Apell always felt like the outsider for two reasons:  her mother abandoning her when she was only three months old; and her severe allergy to grass that forces her to stay in the family den looking out the window as the world passes her by, which results in her not being accepted by her peers and community, forcing her to live like a recluse.  
She finally outgrows her allergy by the time she reaches her teens, but still feels unaccepted.   She also feels a sense of abandonment not necessarily by her mother but by a part of herself she has yet to know that could only be found in her mother.  And she only discovers this part of herself when she has an imaginary encounter with her mother. 

her knocking on my door and me opening it and seeing her, and slowly coming to recognize in her something about myself that I didn’t quite know, or understand.
Page 24

There are three things, however, she is not allergic to and craves with all the passion she can muster: competition, looking through a microscope, and the memories of her beloved father, who was also a scientist. 
She always knew her choice of career would be science the only thing and the best thing she knows, which is not surprising to her or her own father.  Her whole life was within the four walls of her sterilized home and the four walls of her father’s lab. Science was her only faithful companion and the only thing she knows.

     Fresh out of graduate school from Illinois, she is hired by Justin McKinnon to conduct research in the McKinnon Lab, located in the heart of New York City, with the East River and the bridge as its focus and backdrop. Her assigned mission is to discover how olfactory sensory neurons reach their targets in the brain where smell is processed. 
As she walks down the halls of the McKinnon Lab, she finally feels she is on the cusp of greatness, but soon discovers she is not welcome and actually resented by scientists Aeden Doherty and Allegra Meltzer, both who happen be partners in researching the exact same thing she was hired by Justin to do, which she, as well as other experts in the field, deems to be unethical.  
          She approaches Justin who is unapologetic and convinces her to stay.  With each passing page the reader walks with Emily along this journey of scientific discovery that is easy to understand, not intimidating, not confusing, and yes, entertaining.       The DNA of You And Me is written by Andrea Rothman (; jacket design and illustration by Laywan Kwan (; designed by William Ruoto (; and published on March 12, 2019 by William Morrow, An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (

     Andrea Rothman’s The DNA of You And Me placed second place in the category of Best Popular Fiction-English at the 21st International Latina Book Awards. (Left)  The DNA of You And Me has received top-notch reviews form Publisher’s Weekly ( and Library Journal (  More importantly, Andrea Rothman knows her subject – she herself was a research scientist at the Rockefeller University in New York, where she was awarded two grants from the NIH to study the sense of smell. 

     But Rothman is unlike her main character Emily in her debut novel The DNA of You And Me – she didn’t confine herself and her life and her dreams to just one box of science, she is happily married with two children, and left her box of science for the box of fiction.

     The DNA Of You And Me is a novel about a great deal of many things:  ethics, science, a love story, entertainment, but more importantly it is about a woman named Emily and her inability to dream outside of that box known as the “science.”   Emily is too comfortable inside her science box to consider anything else, and the simple thought of anything outside her box scares the hell out of her. 
Fellow scientist Aeden Doherty makes her confront the idea of another box when the two fall in love and become more than just co-workers, friends and confidants but lovers, sharing their pasts and their dreams of the future.  Emily shares with him her painful childhood, her treasured memories of her father, the abandonment of her mother, and her dreams of someday owning her own lab. 
     Aeden shares with Emily his reason for being on the project is due to his mother, who has anosmia.  He shares with Emily that he witnessed his mother fall down the parking lot stairs four years ago.  The impact of the fall caused her shearing off of her nerve endings in her olfactory bulb making it impossible for her to smell. She has the lifelong condition of anosmia.  Aeden knows that the cure will not be made in his mother’s lifetime but he hopes to help find a cure out of love for his mother.

By her own choosing, she is closing herself to every possibility that does not exist in her box of becoming a scientist.  Is it impossible for her to have any other kind of world outside of her career, a mistake that many working women, and in fact, working men face.
And perhaps Emily’s greatest fear is the inability or reluctance to rationally discuss the possibility of living outside the box. Even the thought of having that kind of conversation makes her feel like the little girl running away from the grassy yard to the sterile den in her home, looking out of the window, feeling safe but at what expense is this safety?
     When Justin gives her vouchers to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art she decides to go – more out of need from giving her brain a break after studying her gene over and over again than mere interest. It is at the Metropolitan Museum that she explores a world outside of science – that of art.  Emily is drawn to the painting Portrait of Writer Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin by Ilya Repin because the man in the painting looks almost identical to Aeden. An employee from the Metropolitan Museum of Art approaches her and she tells him the man in the painting reminds her of someone she knows.

“I hope your friend has better luck. This one threw himself down a stairwell and died when he was thirty-three years old.”
“That’s a sad story, “ I said, recalling what Aeden had told me about his mother.
“Are you an artist?”
“Do you paint at all?”
“I wish I knew how,” I caught myself saying, and realized it was true.
Page 87
     Emily thinks the painting is a self-portrait but is surprised to learn that it is a painter Repin and painting subject Garshin are two different people.  Emily tells the man that she thought it was self-portrait and he tells her that if it were a self-portrait he would have to hold the mirror in a certain position.  At the mention of hearing him speak the word mirror, Emily realizes something about the gene she has been studying the whole time, and this new “something” leads her closer to the gene she has been trying to locate.  Justin is very pleased at this new discovery and what it could mean for the world of science and for his lab.
Later, in the book, Emily seeks Justin’s advice, not about Science, but matters close to the heart, such as life outside of science, a life of love.

“What about love?” I asked.
“Love?” Justin said chucking.  “You might find it, but it won’t last very long.  We may feel desperately alone but deep down what we crave is solitude.  Your best bet is here, academia.  This is where you stand the best chance of being happy, and making others happy.”
Page 187

It is possible to do both?  Emily has always been able to have dreams about her career in science; why can’t she make room in her dreams for a relationship and marriage and even motherhood?    Isn’t it possible for her to have both?  Or at least for her to consider the fact that she could have both?
And if she realizes she can have both and does desire both will she have a second chance of love?

To order The DNA of You And Me from HarperCollins click on the link below:

To order The DNA of You And Me from Amazon click on the link below:

To order The DNA of You And Me from Barnes & Noble click on the link below:

Visit Andrea Rothman’s Facebook Page

Visit Andrea Rothman’s Web Page:

No comments:

Post a Comment